Meteors: A Primer
Here are some terms and definitions relating to meteors.
A meteor that appears brighter than any of the stars and planets is called a fireball. The sudden appearance and fast motion of a bright meteor produces an illusion of closeness that can fool even well-trained professionals. Airline pilots have swerved to avoid meteors that were actually 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.
Most meteors are seen 80 to 120 kilometers (50 to 75 miles) above the ground. Occasionally, someone will claim to see a fireball land just beyond a tree or a hilltop, but in fact a typical fireball first appears at a height of about 125 kilometers (80 miles) and loses its brightness while still at least 20 kilometers (12 miles) above the ground.
Much more abundant are smaller, everyday meteors. While most look white, some appear blue, green, yellow, orange, or red. One that explodes at the end of its visible flight is called a bolide.