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Children's LiteratureAfter a house is built, there are leftovers. The same thing happens when a solar system is being formed. The sun and planets formed from an enormous cloud of dust and gas. It rapidly contracted and began spinning. Particles of dust began colliding and sticking together. Some of those masses became planets. Other smaller objects would crash into one another and smash into pieces. The space between Mars and Jupiter is filled with these rocky, metallic planetesimals. This area is known as the asteroid belt and there are hundred of thousands of asteroids there. In the space beyond Pluto billions of icy objects are also left over from the original primordial cloud. In the early 19th century as astronomers searched for new planets they first discovered asteroids large enough to be initially mistaken for planets. Comets are enormous snowballs composed of ice and dirt that travel in elongated elliptical orbits around the Sun. As the comet approaches the sun it warms up and a tail forms. The tail always points away from the sun and is pushed by solar wind. It does not indicate the direction of motion. A meteor is the streak of light that a meteoroid (a stone that originates in space) makes when it enters the Earth's atmosphere. A meteorite is what this same object is called when it lands on earth. This well-illustrated publication is easy to read and comprehend. This book is part of the "Worlds Beyond" series. 2006, Twenty-First Century Books, Ages 8 to 12.