Comets are fascinating celestial objects that captivate our imagination. They’re made up of ice, dust, and rock, and they orbit the Sun.

These “dirty snowballs” are thought to have formed in the early days of our solar system and contain important clues about its formation and evolution.

There are two main types of comets: short-period comets and long-period comets. Short-period comets are those with orbits of less than 200 years, and are believed to originate from the Kuiper Belt which is a region of our solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Long-period comets, on the other hand, have orbits of more than 200 years and are believed to come from the Oort Cloud, a cloud of icy objects located in the distant reaches of our solar system.

Comet 2007 Q3 (Siding Spring) as seen in 2010 by NASA WISE satellite and discovered in 2007 by Donna Burton

When a comet comes close to the Sun, the heat causes the ice to vaporise, creating a bright coma and a tail that can stretch for millions of kilometres.

This spectacle can be seen from Earth and has been observed for thousands of years.

Some famous comets include Halley’s Comet, which is visible from Earth approximately once every 76 years, and Comet McNaught, which was one of the brightest comets in recent history.

Comet 2006 P1 (McNaught) as seen in January 2007

In conclusion, comets are truly remarkable objects that offer a unique window into the past and help us understand the formation and evolution of our solar system.