[mee-tee-er, -awr]
meteor, appearance of a small particle flying through space that interacts with the earth's upper atmosphere. While still outside the atmosphere, the particle is known as a meteoroid. Countless meteoroids of varying sizes are moving about the solar system at any time. Perhaps a billion meteoroids a day enter the atmosphere, their speeds ranging from 10 to 45 mi (16-72 km) per sec. They experience friction due to collisions with the atmosphere; by the time they reach 50 to 75 mi (80-120 km) from the earth's surface, they have been heated to incandescence through friction and are visible as "shooting stars," or "falling stars." Most disintegrate completely before they reach the earth; those large enough to reach the ground are called meteorites. A meteor of considerable duration and brightness is known as a fireball; a fireball that breaks apart with an explosion is a bolide. The brightest fireball ever recorded fell in the Tunguska Basin, Siberia, in 1908, causing the destruction of forest over an area of about 770 sq mi (2,000 sq km). Meteoroids are composed of stone, iron, or a mixture of stone and iron, with other metals present in very small proportions. Other meteoroids, the carbonaceous chondrites, are stony with a large amount of carbon. Although most meteoroids are quite small, and even though only a very small fraction of them reach the earth's surface, their large quantity accounts for several tons of matter falling on the earth each day. A single observer under a dark sky can see an average of 5 to 10 meteors per hour; more during a meteor shower. More meteors are visible after midnight because the earth's rotation has then positioned the observer's part of the earth in the direction of the earth's motion about the sun. The frequency of meteors also increases when the earth passes through certain swarms of particles that intersect the earth's orbit. Such meteor showers are named for the constellation from which they appear to originate.

Entry into Earth's atmosphere of multiple meteoroids (see meteor), traveling in parallel paths, usually spread over several hours or days. Most meteor showers come from matter released during passage of a comet through the inner solar system, and they recur annually as Earth crosses the comet's orbital path. Meteor showers are usually named for a constellation (e.g., Leonid for Leo) or star in their direction of origin. Most showers are visible as a few dozen meteors per hour, but occasionally Earth crosses an especially dense concentration of meteoroids, as in the great Leonid meteor shower of 1833, in which hundreds of thousands of meteors were seen in one night all over North America.

Learn more about meteor shower with a free trial on

or shooting star or falling star

Streak of light in the sky that results when a particle or small chunk of stony or metallic matter from space enters Earth's atmosphere and is vapourized by friction. The term is sometimes applied to the falling object itself, properly called a meteoroid. Most meteoroids, traveling at five times the speed of sound or more, burn up in the upper atmosphere, but a large one may survive its fiery plunge and reach the surface as a solid body (meteorite). Seealso meteor shower.

Learn more about meteor with a free trial on

Meteor is a town in Sawyer County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 170 at the 2000 census.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 35.2 square miles (91.3 km²), of which, 34.4 square miles (89.2 km²) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km²) of it (2.33%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 170 people, 62 households, and 44 families residing in the town. The population density was 4.9 people per square mile (1.9/km²). There were 128 housing units at an average density of 3.7/sq mi (1.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.88% White, 1.76% Native American, 0.59% from other races, and 1.76% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.59% of the population.

There were 62 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.1% were married couples living together, and 29.0% were non-families. 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.32.

In the town the population was spread out with 32.9% under the age of 18, 2.4% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 26.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 120.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 147.8 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $30,625, and the median income for a family was $49,375. Males had a median income of $30,139 versus $30,750 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,487. None of the families and 7.8% of the population were living below the poverty line.


Search another word or see meteoron Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature