Tracking a Comet

Tracking a Comet

Button controls

Help button
Help button: This button will open a window with help information.
Command buttons
Reset button
Reset: reload the applet and reset the parameters.
Rewind button
Rewind: press and hold to advance the applet in reverse.
Pause button
Pause: temporarily stop the action in the applet.
Play button
Play: begin or resume the action in the applet.
Fast forward button
Fast Forward: press and hold to advance the applet.
End button
End: advance the applet to its end.
Speed button
Speed: click to select the number and input a higher number to increase the speed of the rewind and fast forward buttons.
Slider bar
Slider bar: shows the progression through the animation.
Drag controller
Drag controller: click and drag over this symbol to reposition the controller buttons within the applet frame.
Toggle controls
Collapse button: click this button to collapse controller button.

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