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Meteorite Shower vs Meteor Shower

Meteor Shower, Meteorite Shower six of one half a dozen of the other. Well not really. Meteor Showers are great fun to observe in the night sky as bits of comet dust the size of sand grains and small seeds scream through the upper atmosphere. But it is just a light show. Meteorite Shower refers to something much closer to the ground.

Meteorites are bits of rock from outer space that make it all the way to the surface of the Earth and are recovered. They are not from comets but from asteroids. As comets come nearer to the Sun they melt on the surface and their gas and dust are blown away by the solar wind. The Earth passes through some of these old streams of comet dust every year. When we do we get a meteor shower which is visible in the night sky away from the city lights.


Meteorite ShowerAsteroid are solid rocky bodies that can be found in both the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and also in our portion of the Solar System. It is asteroids and smaller pieces of asteroids called meteoroids that are the source of Meteorite Showers. Sometimes a single meteorite will fall and be found. Just the one stone and it will make it through the atmosphere without breaking. But, much more often a stone from space will burst into dozens, hundreds, even thousands of pieces. These falling pieces of space rock will reach the ground at about the same time.  Meteorite Shower, Fall of Stones, Rain of Stones, Meteorite Fall these are all interchangeable terms for when many meteorites strike the Earth as the same time in the same place. A hundred years ago outside Holbrook, Arizona tens of thousands of small pieces of an asteroid rained down on the desert along the railroad tracks at the Aztec station. No one was actually hurt, but the event was memorialized in the attached very dramatic poster published in the Italian magazine el Dominica del Corriere. More recently On February 15 of this year a Meteorite Shower occurred in Russia after the tremendous explosion which devasted several cities and injured over a thousand people with broken glass and falling objects. Hundreds of stones have been recovered so far from the Chelyabinsk meteorite shower and it is expected that stones will continue to be found for years to come.

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