Tracking a Comet
Using the applet
This applet has been designed to show the path of a short period comet through the solar system. As the comet travels around the Sun, it leaves a trail of small dust particles, depicted on the diagram as the yellow speckled line. Students should note that the comet shown has a highly elliptical orbit, which brings it both very close to the Sun as well as beyond the orbit of Pluto.
After the comet passes through the solar system for the second time, the applet will zoom in on the point where the Earth's orbit crosses the cometary debris path. This event produces an annual meteor shower on Earth. Students can then click on the "Show meteor shower" button to observe what a meteor shower looks like. The animation shown depicts the Leonid meteor shower.
Download the Flash Applet
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