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Comets

Have you ever wished upon a shooting star? Are you sure it was a shooting star? Next time you catch a glimpse of a gleaming, falling object in the night sky, you might be witnessing the passing of a comet.

Since comets are made from dust and ice they are also known as "dirty snowballs" or "icy mudballs." The ice portion of the comet isn't just made of water, but also frozen gases that burn off when the comet nears the sun. When the gases burn off it ends up looking like the comet is glowing.

The comet follows a path (called an orbit) around the sun just like the planets. However, while the earth takes 365 days to go once around the sun, it takes the average comet a few hundred years to do the same. Comets are only visible to the human eye when they get close to the sun, which means we can only see them for a few months every few hundred years. Once a comet has passed by the sun about 500 times, (which will take hundreds of thousands of years) all of its gases will burn off and the comet will end up looking like an ordinary meteor or asteroid.

The comet is made up of five distinct parts:

  • Nucleus: This is the center of the comet and is mostly made of ice and gas with a small amount of dust and other solids.
  • Coma: This is a dense cloud of water, carbon dioxide and other neutral gases that surrounds the nucleus.
  • Hydrogen cloud: The hydrogen cloud is a huge but very thin envelope of hydrogen gas around the comet. It can be often be millions of miles wide.
  • Dust tail: This is the most noticeable part of a comet to the unaided eye. It is made up of miniscule dust particles that are forced off the nucleus by escaping gases and can be up to 7 million miles (10 million kilometers) long.
  • Ion tail: This is the part that, when close to the sun, starts to glow. It is made up of electrically charged ions and can be up to several hundred million miles long.

    So, how does somebody discover a comet? Well, comet hunters usually spend hundreds of hours scouring the night sky. Luckily Kidzworld has put together some tips for the amateur comet watcher to save you some time.

  • Make sure you know what a comet looks like. Check them out here or read up on them at your public library.
  • Head out of the city, to somewhere without many lights.
  • Use binoculars or a telescope, you'll have a much easier time finding a comet.
  • Look towards the east about 30 minutes before sunrise or to the west about 30 minutes after the sun sets. This makes it easier for you to spot the comets tail.

    Now you're ready to be the biggest astronomy buff on the block. Good luck and happy hunting!

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    rainbowpoptart
    rainbowpoptart posted in General:
    This is probably the cutest thing about growing up I've ever read, I just... Everyone grows up. No one's the exact same person they were 3 years ago, sometimes they're not even the same way they were 3 days ago. Every single is person is going to look back at their past self and cringe at something- something they said, something they did, something they didn't do. It's a sign of maturity. Everyone gets there (eventually; some earlier than others). I came back from a break around two or three months ago and wow did I feel embarrassed. I was in such an extreme scene phase when I made this account and everything was so.. yikes. My bio and albums were scattered with pictures of band members and "emo" YouTubers and I wanted to, like, burn it all (I deleted a lot of them, but the less cringey ones are still there). And my username..? Oh man my username. Not gonna be able to live this one down, that's for sure. I'm going to stay until I'm 18, if I find the time to (which I should because cyber school isn't that time consuming so). Maybe the remnants of 12 year old Kristin are the bane of my existence, but I've made some nice memories here, and I'm looking forward to making many more. (:
    reply 14 minutes
    AlphaT
    AlphaT posted in Debating:
    @Boysrock50  Do you mind if my response is lengthy?
    reply 19 minutes
    Boysrock50
    Boysrock50 posted in Debating:
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    AlphaT
    AlphaT posted in Debating:
    "KingShawn13" wrote:And now I ask how much of this was the fault of the Presidents before him and how much was actually his fault? It was entirely his fault, or the fault of his administration. The only thing you could blame Bush for is the war in Iraq, but even though Obama didn't start the war in Iraq, he ended it in the worst way possible. 
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    trinityac
    trinityac posted in General:
    Don't worry I felt the same way when getting back on this account. I had made it when I was about to turn 11. I am 15 now. Time changes a lot and I am definitely not the same person I was when starting kidzworld. I'm starting my Sophomore year after summer is over and honestly I'll probably try to stick to this website for as long as I can until they lock my account when I'm 18.  
    reply about 2 hours