meteor

Feb. 15, 2013 | 4:59 p.m.

Meteors and asteroids: What is the difference?

An image of the  meteor that streaked across the sky of Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning . (AP Photo / Nasha gazeta, www.ng.kz)
A meteor brighter than the sun streaked across a portion of Russia on Friday. At the same time, an asteroid the size of half a football field was zipping by Earth, closer than the moon. But what is the difference between a meteor and an asteroid? According to NASA, an asteroid is a rocky body that orbits the sun. Some asteroids are the size of small boulders, others can be up to several miles in diameter. PHOTOS: Meteor streaks over Russia Larger asteroids are sometimes called planetoids or minor planets. Very small ones are called meteoroids. A meteoroid can be smaller than a marble. When an asteroid or a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere it burns up and creates a streak of light (a shooting star). That streak of light is called a meteor. Most meteors burn up entirely as […]
Feb. 15, 2013 | 1:15 p.m.

Russian meteor, asteroids and the Tunguska event

In this 1953 file photo, trees lie strewn across the Siberian countryside 45 years after a meteorite struck the Earth near Tunguska, Russia. Credit: Associated Press
The sudden appearance of a meteor, streaking across the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsky on Friday would be a brilliant spectacle were its effects not so tragic. Bringing with it a flurry of space debris, the blast from the meteor injured more than 500 people, with 112 – 80 of them children – requiring hospital care. The incredible photos that have emerged from the event offer just a hint of the dangerous spectacle on display in the Russian skies. Such an event can’t help but recall the memory of the country’s other famous meteoric calamity – the Tunguska event – an incident that has sparked numerous pop culture references that will be recognizable to U.S. audiences.  The mystery and spectacle surrounding Tunguska has been portrayed as the work of Vulcans preventing a greater disaster in a Star Trek […]
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