Asteroids, Comets & Meteors | What’s the Difference Between Asteroids, Comets & Meteors?

We all know space rocks, but what about the rocks in space? Asteroids, Comets and Meteors are hurtling through the solar system. So how do you tell them apart and which rocks could hit our planet?

Comets pass near Earth but they never make it to the surface. These cosmic snowballs from overtime in the outer reaches of the solar system and are made up of ice, rock and metal. If a comet gets too close to the sun, some of the ice heats up and turns into a gas, creating a glowy layer and that famous tail. If a comet were to shed its ice, it’s become an asteroid.

An asteroid can be as big as an entire country or as small as a chihuahua head. Most of the time you can find them hanging out in the asteroid belt, a rocky superhighway between Mars and Jupiter.

Pieces of rock that break off asteroids and comets are called meteoroids. When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up and causes friction that results in light phenomena. The streak of light is known as a meteor or a shooting star. If a meteoroid lands on Earth’s surface, it becomes a meteorite.

So next time you are gazing at the sky at a shooting star, you will know exactly what it is and exactly what it is not.

Tell us about which astronomical phenomena you want to learn more about in the comment section.

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