Several times a year we rearrange our sleeping schedules to watch one of nature’s annual fireworks displays. Just like clockwork, during the second week of August, the early morning sky lights up with the castoff particles left by the passage of a comet.
Comets are the vagabonds of the solar system. Many of them travel in an ellipse, coming close to the sun at one end of their orbit, and moving towards the outer solar system at the other end. Although hundreds of comets pass through the inner solar system each year, most are so small that they go unnoticed. But occasionally a big comet travels by. (Read the rest …)