Nothing would happen to the Earth if a comet passed through it, except that we would be bear witness to a breath-taking space fireworks display. The meteoritic dust found in the comet’s tail would be burned up by the air’s friction in the atmosphere, just as meteors are consumed and transformed into what is commonly (and erroneously) known as shooting stars once they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
Furthermore, while we often tend to ridicule the ancient humans who considered comets as omens of death and chaos, we should remember that in the 20th century, we too consider them as destructive. The notion specifically started on May 18, 1910, when the head of the famed Halley’s Comet was scheduled to pass between our Earth and the Sun. Newspapers caused widespread panic by announcing that the tail contained a poisonous gas called cyanogens. The people during that time then became afraid of the so-called poisonous gas, although the comet and all of its parts wouldn’t even enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and it didn’t spread gas on the planet.
A worldwide scare ensued, and quite a few newspaper companies had a field day because people rely on their daily reports. Some businessmen even took advantage of the panic by selling comet pills, which would, according to their phony claim, safeguard people from the effects of the supposedly toxic gas. The long-awaited day of the comet passing through the Earth arrived, but nothing happened. In fact, no one even saw the head of the comet against the Sun, but some reported that the comet’s tail was faintly visible. The planet had passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet, with all living beings remaining safe and sound as they were before the panic began.
Could a comet fall on Earth?
There is a chance that a comet or any other large object in space can fall on Earth, but the probability of it happening is 1 in 100,000, which means that we won’t be able to see one in our lifetimes or even the next two or three generations.
The size of the space object is also important to take note when calculating the probability of it hitting the Earth. Despite many claims, bigger objects tend to just pass through Earth, while smaller ones frequently reach out atmosphere. According to research, there are about a hundred pieces of space debris that falls down on Earth, but their sizes are smaller than a grain of sugar. However, there are a few larger objects that reach the atmosphere, and these objects are what we call meteorites. These meteorites are generally harmless, but if they are bigger than a house, they may cause a catastrophe. A meteorite that is larger than normal falls down to the Earth’s crust every 100,000 years, so we might not even experience it.
Is there a difference between a meteorite and a comet?
Some people often confused meteorites and comets as the same object, but they are actually not. Meteorites are portions of a bigger object called a meteor, and can only be called as such if it reaches the Earth’s atmosphere. A comet is an object that remains in outer space and has a tail made up of a cloud of particles that shines bright because it reflects the Sun’s light.
A comet is typically bigger than both a meteor, and it has three parts, which are the nucleus, the coma, and the tail. The nucleus is the center of the comet, and it is commonly made from dozens of combined meteors. The coma, also known as the veil, it the bright part that surrounds the comet’s nucleus, and it is made up of gasses and dust particles that also reflects the Sun’s light. The last part is the tail, which is arguably the most noticeable portion of the comet from afar. Comets typically travel near the Sun, and as they get closer and closer to the center of the solar system, they become brighter and brighter. It is rare to see a comet from the Earth’s view, as they tend to pass through the planet every 50 to 100 years. If one sees a comet in the night sky, then he or she is considered a very lucky person.