Super Safi’s Monday Morning Musings 117 – Comets

Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!

(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)

 

Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.

And what better way to start your week, than by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?

So let’s get started this week by talking about an object seen flying through space.

 

In the one hundredth and seventeenth episode of The Simpsons, Bart’s Comet (Season 06, Episode 14), it’s Science Week at Springfield Elementary and Principal Skinner plans to release a weather baloon.

But Bart pranks the balloon by making it look like Principal Skinner with a big butt.

As punishment, Bart has to meet Principal Skinner at 4:30am for detention revolving astronomy.

But when Principal Skinner steps away from the telescope briefly, Bart discovers a comet.

With his new found scientific name, he is even asked to join the Super Friends, a group of nerds at Springfield Elementary. When they ask to see Bart’s comet, he points out it’s the one coming right for them.

While it seems like everyone in Springfield is doomed, Homer predicts nothing to worry:

Homer: “So there’s a comet. Big deal. It’ll burn up in our atmosphere and whatever’s left will be no bigger than a chihuahua’s head.
Bart: “Wow, dad. Maybe you’re right.
Homer: “Of course I’m right. If I’m not, may we all be horribly crushed from above somehow.

As luck would have it, the comet does burn up in the atmosphere.

But have you ever wondered what comets are?

 

 

Comet

As per NASA’s website, our solar system’s small bodies – asteroids and comets – pack big surprises. These chunks of rock, ice, and metal are leftovers from the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago. They are a lot like a fossil record of our early solar system. There are currently 1,113,527 known asteroids and 3,743 known comets.

Comets are cosmic snowballs of frozen gases, rock, and dust that orbit the Sun. When frozen, they are the size of a small town. When a comet’s orbit brings it close to the Sun, it heats up and spews dust and gases into a giant glowing head larger than most planets. The dust and gases form a tail that stretches away from the Sun for millions of miles. There are likely billions of comets orbiting our Sun in the Kuiper Belt and even more distant Oort Cloud.

Until the time of English astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742), comets were believed to make only one pass through the solar system. But in 1705, Edmond used Isaac Newton’s theories of gravitation and planetary motions to compute the orbits of several comets. Edmond found the similarities in the orbits of bright comets reported in 1531, 1607, and 1682 and he suggested that the trio was actually a single comet making return trips. Edmond correctly predicted the comet would return in 1758. History’s first known “periodic” comet was later named in his honor. Halley’s comet has since been connected to ancient observations going back more than 2,000 years. It is featured in the famous Bayeux tapestry, which chronicles the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Halley’s comet will be back on July 27, 2061.

Here are some notable comets:

By contrast, asteroids, sometimes called minor planets, are rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Most of this ancient space rubble can be found orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt. Asteroids range in size from Vesta – the largest at about 329 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter – to bodies that are less than 33 feet (10 meters) across. The total mass of all the asteroids combined is less than that of Earth’s Moon.

Other objects floating through space include meteors/meteoroids/meteorites. Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as “space rocks”. When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors. When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.

 

 

 

 

Now that we’ve learned more about comets (as well as asteroids and meteors), be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.

Did you remember this episode? Have you ever seen any object in space through a telescope? Did you know the difference between comets, asteroids, and meteoroids? Did you remember Bart’s comet? Have you ever been afraid of a comet hitting earth? What’s your favourite The Simpsons astronomy reference? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.

15 responses to “Super Safi’s Monday Morning Musings 117 – Comets

  1. Christmas Event December 7th 😀🎄

  2. Michell Rodriguez

    Does anyone know when Christmas updates 2022 is dropping?

  3. what is happening to this blog? You didn’t show anything about the last update, the atom shasher, today EA posted a new update!!

    • What you gonna do? Start up your own blog? Get all your little playmates to comment? Boy, id like to see that!

  4. Bart: And you’ve never found anything?
    Seymour Skinner: Once. But by the time I got to the phone, my discovery had already been reported by Principal Kahoutek. I got back at him, though… him and that little boy of his. Anyway, that’s why I always keep a cellular phone next to me.

Leave a Reply