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The Planet Earth:
Turkmens Name Meteorite After Their President

A 670-lb. meteorite landed in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan on June 20, 1998, according to the official Turkmen Press news agency reported in the Neitralny Turkmenistan daily newspaper and relayed around the world by Reuters.

By coincidence, the meteorite fell onto northern Turkmenistan land on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the election of President Saparmurat Niyazov. Local scientists asked the head of state to name the celestial body Turkmenbashi.

Turkmenbashi, meaning Head of the Turkmen, happens to be Niyazov's official title. He was elected president on June 21, 1992. At that time, official media said that more than 90 percent of voters had chosen him for the highest office. There were no other candidates running for president. Niyazov is the focus of a flourishing personality cult in the former Soviet state.

Numerous towns, villages, military units, factories and a sea gulf in the desert state populated by four million persons already have been named after Turkmenbashi. His portraits or statues can be seen on nearly every street corner throughout the country.

Meteorite vs. Meteor, Meteoroid and Micrometeoroid

Meteor. Meteors are the streaks of light associated with the burning of small chunks of rock or interplanetary debris as they arrive in Earth's atmosphere from space.

Meteoroid. The rocks and debris are known as meteoroids and often are the size of a grain of sand or smaller.

Micrometeoroid. Very fine grains of space dust are called micrometeoroids.

Shooting Star or Fireball. Friction heats the rock plunging through Earth's atmosphere and makes the meteoroid glow in the air, causing the streak of light. The streak also is known as a shooting star or fireball.

Meteor Shower. On a dark, moonless night, a dozen meteors per hour may be seen all over the sky. During meteor showers, seen regularly at certain times of the year, as many as 30 to 100 meteors per hour may be seen.

Meteorite. A meteorite is a meteoroid large enough to survive the fall to Earth's surface. Many meteorites have been recovered by persons who happen to be near where they fall to Earth.

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