Friday, September 26, 2014

meteor/meteorite/meteoroid: The Weekend Edition—Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Friday–Sunday, September 26–28, 2014

 A chunk of rock out in space is a “meteoroid.” If it plummets down through the earth’s atmosphere, the resulting streak of light is called a “meteor.” And if it lands on the ground, the chunk of stone is called a “meteorite.”

Don’t confuse meteors with comets, which are masses of ice and dust whose tails are produced not inside our atmosphere, but out in space. When a comet gets too close to the Sun its warmth and the pressure of the solar wind cause some of the comet to evaporate and stream out to form a tail.

The Week’s End Extra from the Archives: “Winching in an Entry, Wincing at the Results” (December 2, 2013).

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