The comet known as C/2022 E3 (Z.T.F.) will be visible to us here on earth for the next few weeks. It will be closest to our planet on February 2nd. The following description is from The New York Times, in an article by Shannon Hall entitled "How to Watch the Green Comet During the New Moon."
"Comets are clumps of dust and frozen gases, sometimes described by astronomers
as “dirty snowballs.” Most are believed to originate from the distant, icy reaches of
the solar system where gravitational agitations sometimes push them toward the
sun — an interaction that transforms them into gorgeous cosmic objects.
When they leave their deep freeze, the heat from the sun erodes their surfaces, and
they start spewing gases and dust until they host a glowing core, known as the
coma, and a flamelike tail that can stretch for millions of miles."
I love that sometimes, those who study such things refer to comets as dirty snowballs!
More about comets:
Maria Mitchell became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the first female astronomy professor in the USA (she taught at Vassar); she discovered a comet in 1847 (the first American woman to do so) that became known as the Maria Mitchell Comet.
The nucleus of a comet is surrounded by large clouds made up of gases. This cloud is called a coma.
Comets have two tails.
Halley's Comet and Comet Hale-Bopp are well known, the first for its connection to Mark Twain and the second for its connection to the Heaven's Gate cult.
Comets, asteroids, meteoroids, and meteors are all different things; falling stars, also called shooting stars, are meteoroids.
This week, write a piece that is about comets or a specific comet, or write a piece in which a comet passing close to earth is part of the setting, or use a comet for an extended metaphor. Go outside and try to see our latest comet event; your search could even end up being your poem, essay, or story.
As always, have fun and remember--it's just a first draft at this point! No pressure!