Thursday, May 1, 2014

Teach Me Thursday: Comets

I am currently taking an astronomy class as my science elective for school. Let me start by saying that I think general education courses are really a waste of time. As a future lawyer, I do not see charting stars and planets needed in my repertoire of skills. However, it is one of the more interesting choices for my science elective so that is what I chose. And yes, I am a senior in college FINALLY finishing her general education credits (I saved them for last so that I enjoyed school to begin with and would power through the last few classes to get my degree).

So anyway, I am currently working on a research project about comets and their role in the evolution of our solar system. While I went into the project knowing nearly nothing about comets, other than they are rocks careening through space, I feel that I haven't even begun to touch on all that I could learn about comets.

I am, however, going to share something that I have learned about these celestial bodies. First and foremost, I never knew the difference between comets, meteors, and meteorites. I honestly thought that there must be a huge difference between these objects. However, there isn't. A comet is the larger body traveling through space. When the Earth crosses the path and into the tail of a comet, the stray particles in the tail are pulled into the atmosphere of the Earth. These are the meteors. Those entities that survive the trip to the Earth's surface, and do not burn up in the atmosphere, are the meteorites. So they are all apart and related to one another, yet have very differing qualities.

While this may not be a very useful lesson this week, it is something that I have learned and found very interesting. Hope you did to!

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