Young Astronomers

4 to 6 Years Old

Meteors and Meteorites

Meteors are also known as shooting stars.

Meteors are small bits of rock or grains of sand which come from comets or asteroids and these burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A meteor that hits the Earth’s surface is called a meteorite.  If the meteorite is big, they can make a crater. The meteorite that fell in Arizona, USA about 50,000 years ago made a crater 175 metres deep.


Asteroids are rocks that formed at the same time as the planets in the solar system but are not big enough to be a small planet. Many of the asteroids have smashed together and some have broken up into smaller asteroids.

However, some asteroids are so big they are given names and are known as dwarf planets.

The largest asteroid is Ceres (also known as a dwarf planet) and is 1000 km across.

The largest known dwarf planet is Eris and is 2,326 km across – it orbits out beyond Pluto.