|MadSci Network: Astronomy|
Stephanie. Many objects pass close to the Earth all the time. There are more than 100 major and minor meteor showers each year. There are also many asteroids and comets in space near the Earth all the time. Just this week, the Earth passed through the debris trail of Comet Temple-Tuttle. This resulted in the Leonid Meteor Shower. It is called the Leonid because all the meteors appear to come from the Constellation Leo. If you are interested in these showers check out this site for a calendar. Meteor Observing Calendar Comets can be short period comets or long period comets. Short period comets orbit the sun in a short period of time. Comet Temple-Tuttle orbits the sun every 33 years. There are several such comets visble in medium sized telescopes all the time. Long period comets take a long time to orbit the sun. Taking thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years to complete one orbit. Comet Haykutaki and Comet Hale-Bopp are two examples of long period comets. There are a large number of asteroids that orbit near the Earth. Many of which have not yet been discovered. There are several that will approach the Earth in the near future. 1863 Antinous in April 1999 1991 JX in June 1999 Even the asteroids that are going to pass close to the Earth are not really that close. The ones listed above will pass well beyond the orbit of the moon. These are the asteroids that have been discovered. There are many more out there that we haven't found yet. The ones listed above are just the ones that I found in a short internet search. There are more out there just waiting to be discovered. To find out more about these topics try these sites. The Nine Planets The Astronomy Cafe a> Ask The Astronomer These sites are where I go to get some of the information for my answers.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Astronomy.