Rogue Meteor Makes Bright Fireball Over Northern Colorado [VIDEO]
The skies over Northern Colorado - in fact, most of the front range - lit up Friday night as a meteor streaked across the atmosphere. Almost 50 people reported the event to the American Meteor Society, and no, I didn't just make the organization up.
They were founded more than 100 years ago - back in the year 1911 - and in addition to documenting sightings of meteors, fireballs and more, they also provide news, excellent insight and forecast outlooks for when you might be able to catch a meteor shower near you.
Whether you want to be a professional astronomer when you grow up - and who didn't - or are just looking to impress a potential significant other while stargazing, their site is loaded with all the knowledge you could hope to learn about meteorites, meteors and fireballs.
But wait, you say, aren't they all the same thing? If fact, no they are not!
What's the difference between meteors, meteorites and fireballs?
Meteors, or shooting stars as they're commonly referred to, are pieces of dust or debris that have broken off from larger comets and asteroids that when they enter earth's atmosphere, create a streak of light in the sky as they burn up.
Meteors that cause an exceptionally bright streak of light due to varying circumstances like their size, trajectory or velocity are classified as "fireballs."
And meteorites are meteors that have actually made it through the atmosphere and landed on earth, usually the size of a rock, after mostly burning up on entry.
What causes or classifies an actual meteor shower?
Sometimes you hear on the news, for example, that we're going to have a meteor shower, or a few days where if you go out at night, you'll be able to see a lot of shooting stars. If you've ever wondered why that is, it's pretty simple and actually really cool.
A meteor shower occurs when earth passes through the dusty trail of a comet or asteroid's path, much like crossing the wake of a boat that just went by you. As those particles hit the earth's atmosphere, they burn up and streak through the sky. The bigger the chunk to hit the atmosphere, the larger the streak in the sky. Much like the one that passed over NoCo Friday night, seen in the videos below.