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Physics Presentation - Comets
Transcript of Physics Presentation - Comets
Grade 10 Asteroids, Comets & Meteors How fast do comets move across the sky ?
Comets appear static in the night's sky. Any apparent movement in position over the course of a night is mostly down to the earth's rotation. Over a period of nights the comet will be seen in a slightly different part of the sky as it continues on it's orbit around the sun.
What makes a comet glow?
As the comet moves closer to the Sun, heat from the Sun causes the comet’s frozen gases to unfreeze and evaporate. Gas and dust escape through the comet’s crust, forming a cloud around the nucleus. This hazy, glowing cloud, called the coma, can be as large as tens of thousands of miles in diameter. It glows because of two things: dust in the coma reflects sunlight, and gases in the coma give off their own light. Together, the coma and the nucleus are called the comet’s head. A comet is a small body of rock, ice, and gas orbiting the sun. A comet's orbit is usually much more elongated than that of a planet. The time required for an orbit varies from a few years to a few hundred thousand years, depending on the comet. What’s a comet’s tail?
A comet’s tail forms when the comet approaches the Sun. The Sun pushes dust and gas away from the comet’s head, forming two tails: the dust tail and the gas tail. The dust tail is curved and pale yellow, while the gas tail is blue, and longer and straighter than the dust tail. The comet’s tails always point away from the Sun. As the comet moves away from the Sun and back towards the deep solar system, the tails disappear.
Does the tail always follow behind a comet ?
Another misconception about comets is that as they hurtle through space the tail follows behind. In fact the tail is caused by the solar winds so it always points away from the sun. This means that as the comet moves away from the sun the tail is pushed out in front of it. Who or what are comets named after ?
Comets are generally named after the person or persons that discovered them. The Hale-Bopp comet that appeared bright in our skies in 1997 was discovered in 1995 by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. Many comets are discovered by amateur astronomers.
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