Also popularly known as "shooting stars", meteors are caused by small pieces of material entering and then burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. Typically the size of a grain of sand, the particle is to small to be seen but as it burns up in the atmosphere the resulting ionisation is visible as a streak of light in the sky from the ground.
Occasionally a meteor leaves a trail of material behind that glows for a short time as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere. This is known as a meteor trail or train. Very bright meteors are referred to as "fireballs".