Everyone wants to catch a glimpse!
They are similar to Asteroids, but are made of dirty ice, dust, and gas. And comets orbit around the Sun just like planets, but when an orbit takes a one too close to the Sun, it begins to melt and vaporize.
Tale of the tail
As a Comet is melted away by the Sun's heat, dust and gases trail along it's path. Reflection of light from the Sun off of these left over particles give the appearance of a tail. This tail is known as the "coma." So, although they appear to be on fire, they're really not!
There are about 3,800 that have been documented thus far, but scientists believe billions more are slowly in orbit throughout our solar system.
Yet so rare!
One of the brightest and most popular ones to date is Halley's, which is visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years. You'll have to wait until 2061 to catch this one! Don't worry, there will be other ones sooner than that.. and Astronomy-Kids will keep you updated!
Remnants of the Sun?
Scientists believe they may be left over materials from when our Solar System was formed. They may have been one way many of the essential elements for life were transferred to our planet!
Return to the kids Outer Space page!