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Name: TG: Learning Targets: - I can describe different objects in space. Comets and Asteroids and Meteors, Oh My! Falling Stars Comets The sight of a falling star is exciting. Before you can say, “Look!” the streak is gone. You point to where it was and ask others if they saw it, too. Often, no one else sees the speedy flight of light flash by. You’re left trying to describe what you saw and felt. You 1)stare Name the parts of the comet below: at the dark space, hoping another will streak across the sky. ! Terms: Nucleus! Coma!! Dust Tail! Ion Tail What is a falling star? A falling star is not a star at all. It is not even a piece of a star. Stars are huge balls of burning gas sending off great amounts of energy in the form of light and heat. Stars are much bigger than our planet. Stars do not fall; they stay in their own places in their own galaxies. Our Sun is a star. A falling star is a meteor. Meteors are streaks of light in the sky that we can see when a small speck of dust burns up high in the air above us. Where do these specks of dust come from? Comets! (And, don’t forget space dirt!) Astronomers call this dirt and comet dust “meteoroids.” Meteoroids are different sizes. Some are larger. Most are tiny. Meteoroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere at super, high speed. Sometimes it’s faster than 90,000 miles per hour. When they are in the atmosphere, they become “meteors.” The meteor usually burns up. This creates the streak of light we see. It looks like a star falling from the sky. This is why they are called a “falling star.” Meteors usually last just a second or two. 2) Watch comet ISON’s path on the interactive online model. What direction does the comet’s tail point. (www.solarsystemscope.com/ison/) 3) What do the orbits of comets usually look like? 4) What are comets made of? 5) Where do comets come from? 6) Research two famous comets. Complete the table below: Comet Name Year Discovered How many years to complete an orbit Additional fact 7) Complete the table Asteroid, Comet, or Meteor? Place an “X” in the appropriate boxes to indicate characteristics of asteroids, comets, and meteors. Asteroid Made of ice, dust, and gas. Appears as a streak in the sky. Made of rock and/or metal. Orbits the Sun. Often called “shooting stars.” Sometimes called a “dirty snowball.” Orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Most are found in the Oort Cloud or Kuiper Belt. Comet Meteor Student name: ___________ he difference between comets, meteors and asteroids 8) Complete the Venn Diagram using the characteristics on the next page Question 1: Add the characteristics listed below to the appropriate location on the Venn diagram. Meteors Asteroids Comets Characteristics 1. Progress across the sky very slowly 2. Remnants of the formation of the solar system 7. Most found in the asteroid belt 8. Most are less than a km in diameter 9. Most have slightly 13. Streak across the sky very fast 14. Most are fragments of large asteroids 15. Icy objects Characteristics to include in the Venn Diagram: 1. Progress across the sky very slowly 2. Remnants of the formation of the solar system 3. Reflect sunlight 4. Rocky composition 5. Orbit the Sun in highly elliptical orbits 6. Measure a few kilometers in diameter 7. Most found in the asteroid belt 8. Most are less than a km in diameter 9. Most have slightly elliptical orbits 10. Most are less than 100 m in diameter 11. Also known as shooting stars 12. Most burn up as they enter Earth’s 13. Streak across the sky very fast 14. Most are fragments of large asteroids 15. Icy objects 16. Meteor showers are caused by the Earth passing through the debris path of a comet 17. Tail always points away from the Sun Also include 3 new characteristics 18. 19. 20. Exceeds: (Choose 2, any portion completed will receive partial credit) 1) Discuss the life of the comet ISON. Where did come from, what happened as it passed the sun and why are scientists so interested. 2) Provide an update on Rosetta, the satellite designed to land on a comet. What are the scientists hoping to find out? 3) Why are scientists and researchers so interested in comets, asteroids and meteorites? What questions are scientists hoping to answer.