The Asteroid Belt & Asteroids – Comets –

Meteorites - Meteor Craters





Asteroid Shower


Comet Fly-by Earth








Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors -  Oh My!


So what exactly is the difference between the three?


How can someone looking through a telescope know what they're looking at? Read below to find out the difference between all 3 and what exactly they are.


 Asteroids Asteroids are quite different from one another, and some are composed of lots of loosely held together particles making just a big pile of small rocks compacted together in one giant clump. Some asteroids have their own moon, or satellite companion, and also the rare chance of them having an equal-sized partner. Asteroids are not round and smooth due to collisions and not having enough gravity to reshape themselves into a sphere. One key aspect when looking through a telescope is that asteroids do not have the tail that is associated with comets.




A Comet is a celestial body that revolves around the sun. Comets have a long tail. Early comets were described as a phonomenon. A Danish astronomer, proved that comets were celestial bodies.  A comet is made of a sharp nucleus,

or center.


When a comet comes toward the sun, the solar heat evaporates so that the ice on

 the comet brightens. When this happens, the comet has a tail that might sometimes lenghten to a point of being many millions of kilometers in space.


The tail of the comet is usually turned

 away from the sun. Comets also have elliptical orbits.



Asteroids are one of the many minor

planets of the solar system. The largest asteroids are Ceres, Pallas, and Vesta.

The mass of an asteroid of is much less than the mass of the Moon.



A Meteor is a solid body that enters a planet's atmosphere from space. - Other meteors, called Bolides, have been seen to explode. When bolides explode, they sound like thunder. Fainter meteors, called Shooting Stars, occur occasionally.




How Asteroids and Comets Formed


Up until about the middle of the twentieth century, astronomers still possessed an imperfect notion of how and where asteroids and comets originally formed. The theory that asteroids were the remnants of the explosion of an ancient planet still prevailed. Also, astronomers believed that the vast majority of asteroids inhabited the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. As for comets, scientists assumed they were floating collections of sand and pebbles that formed and moved randomly through the solar system. When one of these objects happened to stray too close to a planet, the larger body's gravity pushed the comet into the inner solar system (the region inhabited by Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars). There the comet grew a tail and became visible to observers on Earth.

Eventually, however, astronomers were forced to revise their theories about the origins of asteroids and comets. They rejected the concept that the asteroids formed from the explosion of a planet that once lay between Mars and Jupiter. It became clear that the mass of all the bodies in the asteroid belt put together is no more than a small fraction of Earth's mass. Therefore, the asteroid belt does not contain enough material to make up a full-fledged planet. In addition, astronomers found asteroids in other parts of the solar system. Their efforts to explain how these bodies left the asteroid belt helped to create a better understanding of how asteroids formed.


The revised vision of how asteroids and comets formed came to fit logically and neatly into the larger model scientists had developed to explain the formation of the entire solar system. This larger model is based on the solar nebula hypothesis (or nebular hypothesis), initially proposed in the eighteenth century by German philosopher Immanuel Kant and French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace. (The word nebula means a gaseous cloud.) According to the modern version of the theory, about 4.5 to 5 billion years ago the solar system developed out of a huge cloud of gases and dust floating through space. These materials were at first very thin and highly dispersed. But like all matter, they exerted a gravitational pull, which caused the particles of gas and dust to move slowly toward one another. More and more of the material fell toward the center, or core, of the nebula. And as this core grew increasingly compact,



Asteroid Belt - Between Mars and Jupiter







Asteroids & The Asteroid Belt - between Mars and Jupiter

An estimated one million asteroids may exist in the solar system. About 95 percent of all asteroids occupy a band of space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The largest of the asteroids, named Ceres, is 580 miles (940 kilometers) in diameter, while the smallest one measured to date is only 33 feet (10 meters) in diameter.

The asteroid belt is the region of the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets. The asteroid belt is also termed the main asteroid belt or main belt because there are other asteroids in the Solar System such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids. About half the mass of the belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, 4 Vesta, 2 Pallas, and 10 Hygiea. These have mean diameters of more than 400 km, while Ceres, the asteroid belt's only dwarf planet, is about 950 km in diameter.[1][2][3][4] The remaining bodies range down to the size of a dust particle. The asteroid material is so thinly distributed that numerous unmanned spacecraft have traversed it without incident. Nonetheless, collisions between large asteroids do occur, and these can form an asteroid family whose members have similar orbital characteristics and compositions. Collisions also produce a fine dust that forms a major component of the zodiacal light. Individual asteroids within the asteroid belt are categorized by their spectra, with most falling into three basic groups: carbonaceous (C-type), silicate (S-type), and metal-rich (M-type).



Millions of asteroids float in the asteroid belt after the solar system's formation.

Jupiter's terrific gravity kept these objects from forming a planet.


The asteroid belt formed from the primordial solar nebula as a group of planetesimals, the smaller precursors of the planets, which in turn formed protoplanets. Between Mars and Jupiter, however, gravitational perturbations from the giant planet imbued the protoplanets with too much orbital energy for them to accrete into a planet. Collisions became too violent, and instead of fusing together, the planetesimals and most of the protoplanets shattered. As a result, most of the asteroid belt's mass has been lost since the formation of the Solar System. Some fragments can eventually find their way into the inner Solar System, leading to meteorite impacts with the inner planets. Asteroid orbits continue to be appreciably perturbed whenever their period of revolution about the Sun forms an orbital resonance with Jupiter. At these orbital distances, a Kirkwood gap occurs as they are swept into other orbits.






Asteroid 2012 TC4 looks like a star



Asteroid 2012 TC4 looks like a star in this recent photo. The stars show as trails because the telescope tracked the moving asteroid during the time exposure.


Amateur and professional astronomers have been studying the asteroid’s light variations since discovery and determined that it rotates very quickly, perhaps as fast as one spin every 12 minutes. Its brightness also varies by about 1 magnitude during a rotation.









A falling meteor leaves a trail of light as  well as one of electrons that radar

can “see”.


Incoming meteors move so rapidly they knock electrons off air molecules. Turns out you can bounce radio waves off electrons like a ball off a wall. That’s why radar is an excellent tool for “watching” a meteor shower even in daylight.




A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. A meteorite's size can range from small to extremely large. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, frictional, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gasses cause the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star. The term bolide refers to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth,

 or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface.

More generally, a meteorite on the surface of any celestial body is a natural object that has come from elsewhere in space. Meteorites have been found on the Moon and Mars.

Meteorites that are recovered after being observed as they transited the atmosphere or impacted the Earth are called falls. All other meteorites are known as finds. As of February 2010, there are approximately 1,086 witnessed falls having specimens in the world's collections. In contrast, there are over 38,660 well-documented meteorite finds.

Meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories: stony meteorites are rocks, mainly composed of silicate minerals; iron meteorites are largely composed of metallic iron-nickel; and, stony-iron meteorites contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material. Modern classification schemes divide meteorites into groups according to their structure, chemical and isotopic composition and mineralogy.

Some of the debris from collisions can form meteoroids that enter the Earth's atmosphere.[60] Of the 50,000 meteorites found on Earth to date, 99.8 percent are believed to have originated in the asteroid belt.[61] A September 2007 study by a joint US-Czech team has suggested that a large-body collision undergone by the asteroid 298 Baptistina sent a number of fragments into the inner solar system. The impacts of these fragments are believed to have created both Tycho crater on the Moon and Chicxulub crater in Mexico, the relict of the massive impact which is believed to have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.








Photos of Large Meteorites


Willamette Meteorite - It  weighs about 32,000 pounds (14.5 metric tons). at the American Museum of Natural History - New York. - Found date 1902 .


Agpalilik, Greenland: Estimated weight- 20 tonnes - Discovered in 1963 - can be seen at the Geological Museum in Copenhagen.



Bacubirito - Mexico - Mmeteorite found in 1863 - Estimated weight: 22 tonnes



Largest Meteorites ever discovered

Hoba, Namibia. Estimated weight: 60 tonnes


7 Most Massive Single Meteorites Known on Earth


The Willamette Meteorite, officially named Willamette, is an iron-nickel meteorite discovered in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is the largest meteorite found in North America and the sixth largest in the world.There was no impact crater at the discovery site; researchers believe the meteorite landed in what is now Canada or Montana, and was transported as a glacial erratic to the Willamette Valley during the Missoula Floods at the end of the last Ice Age (~13,000 years ago). The meteorite is currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History, which acquired the meteorite in 1906.Having been seen by an estimated 40 million people over the years, and given its striking appearance, it is among the most famous meteorites known.







Meteors: Fire In The Sky - History Channel  ( 1 Hr: 30 mins)








Tunguska Meteor Impact  - Russia July 30, 1908


The Tunguska event was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, at about 07:14 KRAT (00:14 UT) on June 30 [O.S. June 17], 1908.The explosion, having the epicentre (60.886°N, 101.894°E), is believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 mi) above the Earth's surface. Different studies have yielded widely varying estimates of the object's size, on the order of 100 metres (330 ft).[5] It is the largest impact event on or near Earth in recorded history.[6] The number of scholarly publications on the problem of the Tunguska explosion since 1908 may be estimated at about 1,000 (mainly in Russian). Many scientists have participated in Tunguska studies, the best-known of them being Leonid Kulik, Yevgeny Krinov, Kirill Florensky, Nikolai Vladimirovich Vasiliev, and Wilhelm Fast.

Although the meteoroid or comet appears to have burst in the air rather than hitting the surface, this event still is referred to as an impact. Estimates of the energy of the blast range from 3 to as high as 30 megatons of TNT (13–130 PJ),[8][9] with 10–15 megatons of TNT (42–63 PJ) the most likely[9]—roughly equal to the United States' Castle Bravo thermonuclear bomb tested on March 1, 1954; about 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan; and about two-fifths the power of the later Soviet Union's own Tsar Bomba (the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated).

The Tunguska explosion knocked down an estimated 80 million trees over an area covering 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi). It is estimated that the shock wave from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale. An explosion of this magnitude is capable of destroying a large metropolitan area.This possibility has helped to spark discussion of asteroid deflection strategies.







Russian Meteor: Chelyabinsk - 2013


A frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, on a highway from Kostanai, Kazakhstan, to Chelyabinsk region, Russia, Feb. 15, 2013 a meteorite contrail is seen.



Meteorite crash in Russia: Video of meteor explosion that stirred panic in Urals region - Feb 2013 ( 2 mins) 



This Martian meteorite is thought by some scientists to contain evidence of life on Mars. The rock is designated ALH84001, after the Allan Hills in Antarctica where it was found.


 "Black Beauty" Meteor found in 2011 in the Sahara desert.



Martian Ancient Life? Antarctic Meteor and Sahara Desert Meteorites


A Martian  Meteorite is a rock that formed on the planet Mars, was ejected from Mars by the impact of an asteroid or comet, and landed on the Earth. Of over 61,000 meteorites that have been found on Earth, 114 were identified as martian (as of January 9, 2013). These meteorites are thought to be from Mars because they have elemental and isotopic compositions that are similar to rocks and atmosphere gases analyzed by spacecraft on Mars.

The term does not refer to meteorites found on Mars, such as Heat Shield Rock.

On January 3, 2013, NASA reported that a meteorite, named NWA 7034 (nicknamed "Black Beauty"), found in 2011 in the Sahara desert, was determined to be from Mars and found to contain ten times the water of other Mars meteorites found on Earth.The meteorite was determined to have formed 2.1 billion years ago during the Amazonian geologic period on Mars.


Houston Lab...





Wolfe Creek meteorite crater lies on the

 edge of the Great Sandy Desert of

Western Australia. -

Aboriginal people,  called it Kandimalal,

 It is the second largest crater in the world. It is about 60 mtr in diam.











Chicxulub Meteor Crater -

 Scientists had found a huge crater in the Gulf of Mexico (USA), created by a meteorite impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.






Meteor Craters


Barringer Crater  - Winslow, Northern Arizona Desert


Meteor Crater is a meteorite impact crater approximately 43 miles (69 km) east of Flagstaff, near  in the northern Arizona desert of the United States. Because the US Department of the Interior commonly recognizes names of natural features derived from the nearest post office, the feature acquired the name of "Meteor Crater" from the nearby post office named Meteor. The site was formerly known as the Canyon Diablo Crater, [citation needed] and fragments of the meteorite are officially called the Canyon Diablo Meteorite. Scientists refer to the crater as Barringer Crater in honor of Daniel Barringer, who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. The crater is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company,which proclaims it to be "best preserved meteorite crater on Earth".



The crater is about 1 mile wide and 570 ft deep.  Scientists now believe that most of the meteorite vaporized on impact. Small meteoritic fragments have been found

scattered around the crater.


Barringer Meteorite Crater - Aerial View


The Meteor Crater in the state of Arizona was the first crater to be identified as an impact crater. Between 20,000 to 50,000 years ago, a small asteroid about 80 feet in diameter impacted the Earth and formed the crater.

The crater is the best preserved crater on Earth and measures 1.2 km in diameter. For many years, scientists had denied that there were any impact craters on Earth. The origin of this crater has been a source of controversy for many years. The discovery of fragments of the Canyon Diablo meteorite help prove that the feature was in fact an impact crater.



Lonar Crater Lake, India



Monturaqui Impact Crater - Atacama Desert - Chile


More Crater Info & Photos....







Deadly & Meteors Documentary  ( 44 mins)







Jupiter was hit by Asteroid in 2009, not a Comet !!!!


Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 FAQ








Comet Hale–Bopp



The comet Ikeya-Zhang exhibiting a

bright, condensed coma (March 2002)



A comet is a relatively small extraterrestrial body consisting of ice, dust, and gas.




The tail of the comet is usually turned

 away from the sun. Comets also have elliptical orbits.


A comet moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit.




Comets are made of dust and rocky material mixed with frozen methane, ammonia, and water. A comet speeds around the Sun on an elongated orbit. It consists of a nucleus, a head, and a gaseous tail. The tail forms when some of the comet melts as it nears the Sun and the melted material is swept back by the solar wind. Scientists believe comets originate on the edge of the solar system in an area called the Oort cloud. This space is occupied by trillions of inactive comets, which remain there until a passing gas cloud or star jolts one into orbit around the Sun. 

A comet is an icy small Solar System body (SSSB) that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma (a thin, fuzzy, temporary atmosphere) and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet. Comet nuclei range from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers across and are composed of loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. Comets have been observed since ancient times and have traditionally been considered bad omens.

Comets have a wide range of orbital periods, ranging from a few years to hundreds of thousands of years. Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt, or its associated scattered disc,[1] which lie beyond the orbit of Neptune. Longer-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort cloud, a hypothesized spherical cloud of icy bodies in the outer Solar System. Long-period comets plunge towards the Sun from the Oort cloud because of gravitational perturbations caused by either the massive outer planets of the Solar System (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), or passing stars. Rare hyperbolic comets pass once through the inner Solar System before being thrown out into interstellar space along hyperbolic trajectories.

The Universe (S 7 Ep 6) - Ride the Comet ( 44 mins)

iComet C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) was taken at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, AZ in 2004


Comets - NASA










Parts of a Comet


A comet is a small, icy celestial body that orbits around the sun. It is made up of a nucleus (solid, frozen ice, gas and dust), a gaseous coma (water vapor, CO2, and other gases) and a long tail (made of dust and ionized gases). The tail develops when the comet is near the Sun. Its long ion tail of always points away from the sun, because of the force of the solar wind. The tail can be up to 250 million km long, and is most of what we see. Comets are only visible when they're near the sun in their highly eccentric orbits.


The nucleus is the frozen center of a comet's head. It is composed of ice, gas, and dust. The nucleus contains most of the comet's mass but is very small (about 1 to 10 km across - or more).
Coma: The coma is the roughly spherical blob of gas that surrounds the nucleus of a comet; it is about a million km across. The coma is comprised of water vapor, carbon dioxide gas, ammonia, dust, and neutral gases that have sublimed from the solid nucleus. The coma and the nucleus form the head of a comet.

Ion Tail:

A tail of charged gases (ions) always faces away from the sun because the solar wind (ions streaming from the sun at high velocities) pushes it away (it is also called the plasma tail). When the comet is approaching the Sun, the ion tail trails the comet: when the comet is leaving of the Sun, the ion tail leads. The tail fades as the comet moves far from the Sun. The ion tail can be well over 100 million km long.

Dust Tail:

The dust tail is a long, wide tail composed of microscopic dust particles that are buffeted by photons emitted from the Sun; this tail curves slightly due to the comet's motion. The tail fades as the comet moves far from the Sun.


 Hydrogen Envelope:

 Hydrogen gas surrounds the coma of the comet and trails along for millions of miles (it is usually between the ion tail and the dust tail). The hydrogen envelope is about 10 million km across at the nucleus of the comet and about 100 million km long. It is bigger when the comet is near the Sun.


A Comet's Orbit


Comets orbit the Sun in highly elliptical orbits. Their velocity increases greatly when they are near the Sun and slows down at the far reaches of the orbit. Since the comet is light only when it is near the Sun (and is it vaporizing), comets are dark (virtually invisible) throughout most of their orbit. The solar wind pushes the tail away from the Sun.


Cosmic Snowballs 
There is a new and very controversial theory that comets (composed of frozen water) are constantly bombarding the Earth. These "cosmic snowballs" have (perhaps) been seen by the visible imaging system of the Polar Satellite. In theory, these frozen comets vaporize in the atmosphere, adding water vapor to the environment.







Nucleus of Comet


Nucleus of Comet 103P/Hartley with jets streaming out by a visiting space probe. It is about 2 km in length and 400 meters wide at its narrowest point.


In astronomy, a coma (from the Greek κόμη, "hair") is the nebulous envelope around the nucleus of a comet. It is formed when the comet passes close to the Sun on its highly elliptical orbit; as the comet warms, parts of it sublimate.[1] This gives a comet a "fuzzy" appearance when viewed in telescopes and distinguishes it from stars.

The coma is generally made of ice and dust.[1] Water dominates up to 90% of the volatiles that outflow from the nucleus when the comet is within 3-4 AU of the Sun.[1] The H2O parent molecule is destroyed primarily through photodissociation and to a much smaller extent photoionization.[1] The solar wind plays a minor role in the destruction of water compared to photochemistry.[1] Larger dust particles are left along the comet's orbital path while smaller particles are pushed away from the Sun into the comet's tail by light pressure. 







Meteors, Asteroids, and Comets   ( 10  mins)


This is the precursor to "The Complete Cosmos". This documentary is so great because it' s100% pure information/and graphic narration. All the boring interviews are removed.








Rendezvous with a Comet  ( 3 mins)


From JPL. Comets are important because they represent the leftover bits and pieces from the outer solar system formation process, which took place four and a half billion years ago. As the planets formed, the first thing you got was tiny clumps of dust in the inner solar system, and in the outer system, dust and ice.

The comets are what made the cores of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But the planets are so hot that the chemistry changes completely, whereas the comets have remained frozen the entire time so that the chemistry is preserved. Comets are basically made up of a number of different regions; a dirty ice ball, relatively small and black. When it gets near the sun these ices start vaporizing, which forms a atmosphere. And then, when some of these dust particles are blown back away from the sun because of the pressure of sunlight, you form a dust tail and often a gas or ion tail.





COMETS! Visitors from Deep Space

 Book by David J. Eicher


, will be published by Cambridge University Press this October. Here’s a taste of an introductory chapter that describes where comets live in the solar system.







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