Space Glossary

Space Glossary
FILE - In this early morning, Aug. 13, 2013 file photo, a meteor streaks past the faint band of the Milky Way galaxy above the Wyoming countryside north of Cheyenne, Wyo., during a Perseids meteor shower. On Thursday night, Aug. 11, 2016 into early Friday morning, the Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak with double the normal number of meteors. Scientists call this an outburst, and they say it could reach up to 200 meteors per hour. (AP Photo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Blaine McCartney)

Asteroid: A large space rock that stays in space. These rocky objects orbit the sun and are much smaller than planets.

Bolide: The light emitted by a large meteoroid or asteroid as it explodes in the atmosphere. Sound can sometimes be produced.

Comet: A solid body made of ice, rock, dust and frozen gases. As they fracture and disintegrate, some comets leave a trail of solid debris.

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Fireball: A very bright meteor. It is brighter than the planet Venus. There are several thousand meteors that are bright enough to be fireballs each day. Most occur over the ocean.

Meteor: Sometimes called shooting stars. These are space objects that can as small as dust or as large as a rock. Once they enter the Earth's atmosphere they are heated by friction burn up. The light emitted when traveling through the atmosphere is the meteor.

Meteorite: A meteor is able to survive the hot entry into the Earth's atmosphere and reach the ground.

Meteoroid: A smaller asteroid or space rock that can orbit the sun and become meteors if they enter the Earth's atmosphere.

Meteor Shower: An annual event, when the Earth passes through a region having a great concentration of debris, such as particles left by a comet. From Earth, it looks like meteors radiate from the same point in the night sky.

Solar Eclipse: When the Moon moves between Earth and the Sun and the 3 celestial bodies form a straight line: Earth–Moon–Sun. Solar eclipses only occur during a New Moon.

Total Solar Eclipse: When the Moon completely covers the Sun, as seen from Earth.

Partial Solar Eclipse: When the Moon only partially covers the disk of the Sun.

Annular Solar Eclipse: When the Moon appears smaller than the Sun as it passes centrally across the solar disk and a bright ring, or annulus, of sunlight remains visible during the eclipse.

Hybrid Solar Eclipse: A rare form of solar eclipse, which changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and vice versa, along its path.

Lunar Eclipse: When Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon and blocks the Sun's rays from directly reaching the Moon. Lunar eclipses only happen at Full Moon.

Total Lunar Eclipse: When Earth's umbra – the central, dark part of its shadow – obscures all of the Moon's surface.

Partial Lunar Eclipse: When only part of the Moon's surface is obscured by Earth's umbra.

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: When the Moon travels through the faint penumbral portion of Earth’s shadow.