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OUT OF THIS WORLD: COMETS ASTEROIDS, AND METEOROIDS Our solar system is located in the Milky Way. The solar system is composed of the sun, eight planets, and moons. Most people disregard the smaller celestial bodies called asteroids, comets, and meteoroids that fill our solar system. COMETS Comets, commonly known as “Dirty Snowball,” are composed of loose collection of ice, dust, and small rocky particles whose orbits are usually very long, narrow ellipse. Comets appear to be fireballs of light zooming through the sky. When comets get close enough to the sun, the energy from the sunlight turns ice into gas, releasing gas and dust. Most comets can be found in the Kuiper belt which is a doughnut shaped region beyond Neptune. The Oort cloud is a spherical region of comets that surrounds the solar system. ASTEROIDS Asteroids are fragments of rock with an irregular shape that orbit the sun. They are too small and numerous to be considered planets. Most asteroids can be found orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. This region is known as the asteroid belt. Asteroids are leftover pieces of the early solar system that never came together to form a planet. METEOROIDS Meteoroids, bits of rock and dust, which are formed from asteroids and comets. These small celestial objects move throughout the solar system. Meteors are created when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and heats up because of the friction of the Earth’s air. This causes a streak of light in the sky. Meteorites are meteoroids that pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the Earth’s surface.