Comets

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Halley Comet.

Halley's Comet, black and white.

 

Recent Events

Halley's Comet     returns every 76.1 years, 1986

Hale-Bopp            returns every 4000 years, March 22, 1997

Hyakutake   returns every 40,000 years, March 25,1996

Shoemaker-Levy 9       crashed into Jupiter, June 16-22, 1994

Comets are awesome.  Most Comets consist of ice, probably frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice), and dust.  As they approach the Sun, the sun's solar winds (solar energy), creating a tail to streak from the comet.  The coma, the head of the comet, remains as ice and dust.  The tail always points away from the sun even as the comet loops around the sun and goes back the other way.

Haley's Comet is the most famous Comet and it returns every 76 years, approximately.  Halley's comet was probably first documented (officially) in 1577.  Then, in 1682, Dr. Edmond Halley tracked the Comet and put the two together.   He then accurately predicted the comets return in 1758-1759.  Halley's Comet made its most recent pass of Earth in 1986.  Remember, care for the Earth and yourselves, and you may get to see Haley's Comet in 2061.  It was incredible!

Comets can be up to 10,000 miles in diameter: its coma may be 10,000 to 50,000 miles in diameter: and, its tail can be 28,000,000 miles long.  Wow!   Comets have very oval orbits, unlike asteroids whose orbits are usually round.

 

Hale-Bopp.

"Gang of Four", Shoemaker-Levy 9; Comet fragments split and separated.

Brown scars, bottom right, are impact marks left by several Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet fragments hitting Jupiter.

From right to left, one of Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet fragments impact Jupiter.

Shoemaker-Levy 9 had broken into 21 pieces before all of them impacted Jupiter mid-July 1994.