Space Object Differences

When learning about space it can sometimes be difficult to know the difference between all of the amazing objects out there. The following terms are often confused with each other so let’s answer the question: What’s the difference between a comet, asteroid, meteoroid, meteor & meteorite?

Although there can sometimes be a blurry line between categories the following definitions should help you understand the difference between comets and asteroids, why Halley’s Comet is not a meteorite and more.


A comet is a relatively small solar system body that orbits the Sun. When close enough to the Sun they display a visible coma (a fuzzy outline or atmosphere due to solar radiation) and sometimes a tail.


Asteroids are small solar system bodies that orbit the Sun. Made of rock and metal, they can also contain organic compounds. Asteroids are similar to comets but do not have a visible coma (fuzzy outline and tail) like comets do.


A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids).


A meteoroid that burns up as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere is known as a meteor. If you’ve ever looked up at the sky at night and seen a streak of light or ‘shooting star’ what you are actually seeing is a meteor.


A meteoroid that survives falling through the Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with the Earth’s surface is known as a meteorite.