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Mav Mark 11/14/11. List all 8 planets in order of distance from the sun. Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors. Notes. Comets. A comet orbits the sun. A comet is made of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. You can think of a comet as a “dirty snowball.”.

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mav mark 11 14 11
Mav Mark11/14/11
  • List all 8 planets in order of distance from the sun.
  • A comet orbits the sun. A comet is made of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. You can think of a comet as a “dirty snowball.”
  • The brightest part of a comet is the head. A comet’s head is made up of a nucleus and a coma. The nucleus is the solid core of the comet. The coma is a fuzzy outer layer made up of clouds of gas and dust.
  • A comet’s tail usually consists of two parts: an ion tail and a gas tail. Both tails usually point away from the sun; one tail is made of gases, and the other is made of electrically charged particles.
  • The orbit of a comet is highly elliptical, therefore it takes a very long time for comets to orbit the sun.
  • Most comets originate in one of two regions surrounding the solar system:
  • The Kuiper Belt is a doughnut-shaped region that extends from beyond Neptune’s orbit to about 100 times Earth’s distance from the sun.
  • The Oort Cloud is a spherical region of comets that surrounds the solar system out to more than 1,000 times the distance between Pluto and the sun.
  • An asteroid is a rocky object that orbits the sun, but is still too small to be considered a planet.
  • Most asteroids are in orbit between Mars and Jupiter. The region of the solar system is called the asteroid belt.
  • Most asteroids are less than one kilometer in diameter, but some are much larger, bringing the number of asteroids up to over 1,000,000.
  • Astronomers believe that asteroids are leftover pieces of rock from the early solar system.
  • The total mass of the asteroid belt is estimated to be just ¼ of the mass of the Luna. The four largest objects, Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea, account for half of the belt's total mass, with almost one-third accounted for by Ceres alone.
  • Ceres is now one of our five dwarf planets.

Number 1 is Ceres, 4 is Vesta, 2 is Pallas, and 10is Hygeia in the asteroid belt, compared to our moon in the background.

  • Occasionally, asteroids can leave the asteroid belt due to collision or gravitational disturbances from Mars or Jupiter.
  • These loose asteroids can travel around the sun in much more elliptical orbits, which can put then in the paths of planets.
  • These impacts have been known to impact Earth every 50 million years or so. The last major impact was the K-T (Cretaceous-Tertiary) impact that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
  • A meteoroid is a chunk of rock or dust in space.
  • Some meteoroids from when asteroids crash into each other. Other meteoroids from when comets break apart.
  • Meteoroids can enter Earth’s atmosphere. When one does, friction between the meteoroid and the air produces a streak of light in the sky. A meteor is a streak of light in the night sky produced by a meteoroid. Think: meteor shower.
  • Most meteoroids burn up completely in that atmosphere, turning into nothing but the dust you see floating in front of bright lights.
  • However, some will strike Earth’s surface. Meteoroids that hit the ground (or a house, car, person, animal, etc.) are called meteorites.

Largest meteorite ever found in America

Mile-wide crater in Arizona

Possible life-forms on a meteorite in Antarctica


Discovered meteorites can usually be sold to museums and science labs for tens to thousands of dollars each.