This recent meteor over the midwest. Reports described it at blue / green. I have seen blue / white, red and yellow meteors. I presume red means iron, green means copper. Can meteoritics or meteor specialists (or whatever you call them) say a lot about the content of a meteor based or the color it makes during entry?


Absolutely, it's the same as heating up metals with a blowtorch. The colour of the flame tells you what is present. Wikipedia actually has a handy list giving an indication of the significant elements present:

  • Orange-yellow (sodium)
  • Yellow (iron)
  • Blue-green (magnesium)
  • Violet (calcium)


  • Red (atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen)
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  • $\begingroup$ Spectrography can provide some more hints. $\endgroup$ – SF. Feb 9 '17 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely - but as a handy guide for anyone looking up, this works. I'm unlikely to ever have spectrographic analysis kit with me when metero spotting :-) $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Feb 9 '17 at 14:43
  • $\begingroup$ Of course if there is more than a single element contributing to the color, you're in a pickle. If you have yellow & violet, or orange & blue they may give the impression of no color. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 10 '17 at 3:55

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