Celestial Buddy: Comet
Comet…I’m a long distance traveler!
We are restless wanderers, taking elongated orbits around the Sun. Our orbits may take us very far away, but some day, we will return! I can be described as a dirty snowball because I’m made mostly of frozen water and dust. Some scientists believe that comets are responsible for bringing some water and organic molecules to Earth’s surface at the beginning of the Solar System.
My most distinctive characteristic is my “coma” or tail sweeping out behind me as I travel through space. This tail is a result of passing close to the Sun, evaporating my ice into water and releasing dust. We comets orbit the Sun, but in elongated elliptical orbits, not circular ones, sending us far out into space, but always to come back, years, centuries or even millennia later. Some of my most famous cousins are named after the astronomers who discovered them, like Halley's Comet, Comet Hale-Bopp and Comet Kohoutek.