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Seven Wonders of Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    The wonders of asteroids, comets, meteors, and other celestial bodies in the "far reaches of the solar system" are amazing ...

    Herodotus, an ancient Greek writer, once penned a list of the Seven Great Wonders of the Ancient world. Since that time many others have emulated his work by describing other great wonders on Earth that have cropped up throughout the centuries since Herodotus's original list was created. In the 21st century lists have evolved from the wondrous things that can be found on its lands and looks beyond the clouds into the far reaches of our solar system. In this book you will get a glimpse at such things as asteroids that "zoom past Earth every year" to the mysterious Kuiper Belt objects that are "made of material left over from the formation of the solar system."

    As many young aspiring astronomers know, Galileo Galilei was the first to study the skies with a telescope, but since his day the evolution of the simple telescope is astounding. For example the Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) has discovered thousands of asteroids and "fifteen new comets" since its launch in December 2009. Slightly more than a decade before the launch of WISE, Astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi spotted what he thought to be a new comet. What he really found was "the largest know asteroid," which he subsequently named Ceres. In recent times scientists decided that under a new classification system it "has become one of the smallest of the dwarf planets. The second wonder explored in this book is Ganymed and other so called earthgrazers, or near-Earth objects (NEOs). Ganymed was the largest NEO, but you'll read about many others that come close to earth, including those that could potentially cause a disaster.

    Halley's comet is a wonder that amazes Earth's population when it makes its appearance in the skies once every seventy-five years. Astronomer Fred Whipple will tell you what a comet is comprised of and you'll get to read about many other comets, including Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, the comet that is disappearing. The fourth wonder, the Borealis Basin, was one that was created from a disastrous collision. The basin is a crater on Mars that is "5,300 miles (8,500 km) across and covers nearly 40 percent of the surface of Mars." You'll also get to check out craters on the Moon, on Earth, and you'll learn what scientists are doing to "avoid an asteroid impact." The fifth wonder is the Perseid meteor shower. If you've ever wished upon a falling star, you'll soon discover exactly what it is you've been looking at, what meteor showers are and why they occur. Did you know that "On an average night, you might see three meteors an hour?" True. The sixth wonder will take you out to the Kuiper Belt and the seventh will take you to Pluto and Charon, its moon. You'll learn about the statistics, interesting facts, and will revisit that debate about whether or not it is a planet.

    This look at the wonders of asteroids, comets, meteors, and other celestial bodies in the "far reaches of the solar system" will mesmerize the young wannabe astronomer. Each "wonder" goes beyond a simple description and delves further into facts about similar phenomenon and offers up interesting vignettes to interest the reader. For example, when Halley's comet is discussed you'll read about its discovery, Edmond Halley's predictions, why Mark Twain was so fascinated by it, you'll read about a "comet nursery," the Bayeux Tapestry, and you'll learn many other interesting facts about co

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