Have you ever looked up at the night sky and spotted a glowing ball with a shiny tail streaking across? That’s a comet, one of the universe’s coolest travelers! These space “snowballs” have been whizzing around for billions of years, leaving trails of light and wonder behind them. Ready to zoom into the world of comets and uncover some out-of-this-world facts about comets? Then, let’s dive in!
Have you ever wondered what a comet is made up of? Imagine a giant snowball, but instead of just snow, mix in dust, ice, and frozen gases. That’s a comet! As they fly close to the Sun, the heat makes them glow and leave behind that famous, shiny tail. It’s like they’re leaving a glittery path in space!
Did you know that a comet’s tail always points away from the Sun, no matter which direction the comet is moving? This is because the Sun’s energy pushes it away! So, if you’re ever lost in space, the comet’s tail can tell you where the Sun is.
Comets date back to over 4.6 billion years ago.
Are you ready to shoot for the stars and learn more facts about comets? From where they come from to their dazzling displays, comets have a universe of secrets waiting to be discovered. So, grab your telescope, and let’s embark on a cosmic journey!
Don’t forget to download your facts about Comets cards to add to your growing collection of fact cards! Have you grabbed your Facts About Blizzards cards or your Facts About Red Wolves cards? Be sure you do!
Best Facts about Comets
- Halley’s Comet is visible every 75 to 76 years.
- A comet’s dust tail is a trail of dust and rocky material
- As the comet gets warmer, it grows a tail of gas and dust that can be millions of miles long, always pointing away from the sun.
- Many believe that Chicxulub, the celestial body that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago, was either an asteroid or comet.
- Many periodic comets are now termed lost comets since their orbits were never known well enough to predict future appearances.
- The most recent comet to be making headlines is that of recently discovered comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) which will make a relatively close approach to Earth on Feb. 1, 2023, passing within 28 million miles (42 million km).
- Comets leave a trail of debris behind them that can lead to meteor showers on Earth.
- Long-period comets – which are called nearly isotropic comets.
- Long period comets orbit the Sun every 200 years or longer.
- Comets have been given the nickname of “dirty snowballs.”
- Comets are little bits of ice left over from the beginning of our solar system.
- Comets are most easily visible when they get close to the sun
- The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between August 9 and 13 when Earth passes through the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle.
- Comets are somehow the jewel for amateur astronomers since they are so many, usually dim, and hard to spot.
- For much of human history, comets were not welcome visitors. They were thought to symbolize times of disaster and doom.
- Comets are believed to originate from either the Oort Cloud, or the Kuiper Belt, found beyond the orbit of Neptune and the dwarf planet Pluto.
- a great comet is one which is bright enough to be visible from Earth without the need for a telescope.
- Astronomers classify comets based on the duration of their orbits around the sun.
- The most famous comet is Halley’s Comet. It has been observed since at least 240 B.C. It was named after the British astronomer Edmond Halley
- Comets are generally named after their discoverer.
- Comets have their own atmospheres
- Some comets, called sun-grazers, smash right into the sun or get so close that they break up and evaporate.
- Comets might have brought life and water to Earth
- All comets orbit the sun
- One great comet happens every ten years.
- Comets are believed to originate in one of two regions
- Comet orbits are elliptical. It brings them close to the sun and takes them far away.
- One AU is the distance between Earth and the Sun.
- Comets have a halo when they move close to the Sun.
- Comets are composed primarily of frozen ammonia, methane or water, and contain only small amounts of rocky material.
- Comets orbit the Sun in elliptical paths – just like the planets.
- Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 is named after its discoverers, Gene Shoemaker, Carolyon Shoemaker and David Levy.
- Comets, like asteroids, are small celestial bodies that orbit the Sun.
- The Oort cloud is an outer region of the Solar System 50,000-150,00 times the distance from the Sun to Earth
- Comets have three parts: the nucleus, the coma and the tails.
- Short-period comets – which are called ecliptic comets
- Comets are frozen leftovers from the formation of the solar system composed of dust, rock, and ices.
- The ion tail is a stream of ionized gasses that are blown directly away from the Sun as a result of the comet’s contact with the solar wind.
- Those comets with orbits in between are called Halley-type comets.
- Short-period comets are also known as periodic comets
- Comets are neither spaceships nor alien bases
- Comet Hale-Bopp is best known to most people for the much publicized Californian cult who believed the comet to be a spacecraft.
- The Oort cloud is believed to contain dormant comets.
- As a comet gets closer to the Sun, it loses some of its mass as it sublimes.
- A highly visible comet was Hale-Bopp, which came within 122 million miles (197 million km) of Earth in 1997.
- Isaac Newton later discovered that comets move in elliptical, oval-shaped orbits around the sun, and correctly predicted that they could return again and again.
- The coma is the gas and dust atmosphere around the nucleus
- Comets are in orbit around the Sun as are our planets.
- Comets can become extinct or explode
- The appearance of a comet is called an apparition.
- Halley’s peanut-shaped nucleus is barely 9 miles (15 kilometers) long by 5 miles (8 kilometers) wide.
- The word “comet” comes from the Greek word “Kometes” which means long hair. This is because of how a comet’s tail can look like long flowing locks of hair.
- Like planets, some comets orbit the sun on a predictable schedule
- Comets can travel out to hundreds of thousands of times the distance between the Earth and the sun, and then slowly travel back into the inner solar system on million-year-long orbits.
- Sometimes comets are referred to as cosmic snowballs
- The nucleus of a comet contains the vast majority of its total mass.
- Chinese astronomers kept extensive records on comets for centuries, including observations of Halley’s Comet going back to at least 240 B.C., and historic annals that have proven valuable resources for later astronomers
- The nucleus is the solid center component made of ice, gas and rocky debris.
- Comets have two tails, not one
- The Kuiper Belt is a ring made up of dormant comets
- Short period comets orbit the Sun every 20 years or less.
- As a comet approaches the sun, it heats up very quickly causing solid ice to turn directly into gas via a process called sublimation
Do you have even more interesting facts about comets? Share them with us in the comments! Also, don’t forget to grab your free comet fact cards to add to your collection!
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