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Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites



Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.13

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    achondrites, chondrites, iron-nickel, silicon-based, stony-iron, silicon, magnesium, meteorite, atmosphere, asteroid, head-on, traces, outer, material, bowl-shaped, meteoroid
     content words:    In October, Meteor Crater


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Meteors, Meteoroids, and Meteorites
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     Have you ever seen a falling star? You really saw a meteor. A meteor is a bright streak of light we see in the sky. It only lasts for a few seconds. People often call meteors shooting stars or falling stars because they look like stars falling from the sky. People sometimes call the brightest meteors fireballs. While it is in space, it is called a meteoroid. Meteoroids that reach the Earth are called meteorites.
 
2     A meteor appears when a chunk of metallic or stony matter called a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere from outer space. Air friction heats the meteoroid so that it glows. It creates a shining trail of gases and melted meteoroid particles. Most meteoroids burn up before reaching the Earth. Some leave a trail that lasts several seconds. Millions of meteors occur in the Earth's atmosphere every day. Most meteoroids that cause meteors are about the size of a pebble.
 
3     Meteoroids travel around the sun in different orbits and at different speeds. The fastest ones move at about 26 miles per second. The Earth travels at about 18 miles per second. So when meteoroids meet the Earth's atmosphere head-on, the combined speed may reach about 44 miles per second, or 158,400 miles per hour!

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