Big chunks of rock and ice travel around the sun -- these are comets, with beautiful "tails"of gas and dust that shine with the sun's light!
Make a Crater
Do this project to see how craters are made. You may want to do this project outside, or inside with newspapers spread over your work area.
Sometimes asteroids, meteors, or comets bump into planets or the moon as they move through space. When they do, they leave an indentation or dip in the planet or moon's surface. In this project, the wet sand from the cup was like an asteroid, meteor, or comet, and the pie pan with sand was like a planet or moon. To make the best crater, it doesn't really matter how much sand you take from the cup, but how hard you fling it. Even just a little wet sand thrown at the pan can make a big crater!
Catch a Comet
Make a colorful 'comet' that you can play catch with! If you like, you can make it glow-in-the-dark for nighttime fun.
Your homemade comet can streak through the air with its tail behind it, just like the real thing! The tennis ball is like the ice and rock chunk of a comet, and the plastic bag makes the coma and tail.
A Penny As Big as the Moon?
A comet circles around the sun in a long orbit. How much bigger than a comet is the moon, or the earth, or the sun? Find objects in your house to show how big the earth would be if the moon was the size of a penny, or if a comet was smaller than the head of a pin.
In our solar system, the moon is much, much bigger than a penny! The moon is more than 2,000 miles across! It is hard to imagine how big that is. Just like in this project though, the earth is bigger, and the sun is much, much bigger!
Now that you know how big the sun, earth, and moon are compared to each other, you might have an idea of how big our solar system really is! A comet is not really as small as a dot, or even a beach ball. Comets are between one mile and fifty miles across, not including the tail! Comets are huge! But when compared to other things in our solar system, they seem pretty small.
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