Meteors, Asteroids & Comets

Do you know the difference between meteors, asteroids, and comets?

The truth is…not a whole lot.  All three are really just space rocks.  The real difference is in the size.

Meteors

Meteor

When you wish upon a star it’s a meteor.

At night if you stare at the sky long enough, you are sure to see one streak across the night sky.  Any space rock that survives the impact with the earth’s atmosphere is called a meteorite.

Asteroids

AsteroidsAsteroids are gargantuan space rocks.  Thousands of asteroids can be found in orbit between Mars & Jupiter – the Asteroid belt.

Asteroids are BIG!This image is to scale and gives a real sense of how large some asteroids can be. Asteroid Vesta (left) / dwarf planet Ceres (center) / Earth’s Moon (right).

Comets

CometsComets are much larger than meteors.  Unlike meteors that shoot across the sky in a blink of an eye, comets move slowly and can be seen for several weeks. These big chunks of rock, are riddled with ice.

What causes a comet to have a tail?

It’s pretty simple really…whenever a comet passes near the Sun, the ice on this space rock is boiled off.  Leaving behind the long and picturesque comets tail that everyone is familiar with.

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