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Kids Need Science is devoted to demystifying and explaining science, technology, engineering and math words, names, and concepts. Check back often for a science, technology, engineering or math word defined and explained every day.
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If you haven’t seen this video of a meteor over Russia yet, you have to check it out.  In order to help you speak knownledgeably about it, today we have a three words that are often confused or used interchangeably:  meteormeteoroid and meteorite. The word meteor comes directly from the Ancient Greek word ta meteora which meant a celestial phenomenon. Today a meteor is the visible manifestation of that celestial phenomenon as it enters the earth’s atmosphere. Meteor came into use in Early Modern English in the 15th century. Meteorite was coined in 1824 by adding -ite from the French suffix based on the Latin suffix -ita meaning connected to or belonging to to denote the remains of meteors recovered on the ground. The word meteoroid was coined in 1865 by adding the -oid suffix from the Ancient Greek word eidos meaning shape orform to denote a celestial body smaller than an asteroid yet still visible from Earth. Get ready for the asteroid that will shortly pass within 17,100 miles of earth, well below the orbits of many satellites.  Let’s hope it doesn’t become a meteor or worse, meteorite!  Russian speakers take note:  minor swearing after the sonic boom.

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