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Asteroids, Comets, and Meteors Theme Page

This "Theme Page" has links to two types of resources related to the study of asteroids, comets and meteors. Students and teachers will find curricular resources (information, content...) to help them learn about this topic. In addition, there are also links to instructional materials (lesson plans) which will help teachers provide instruction in this theme. Please read our disclaimer.

Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards
"Although the annual probability of the Earth being struck by a large asteroid or comet is extremely small, the consequences of such a collision are so catastrophic that it is prudent to assess the nature of the threat and prepare to deal with it." This NASA site provides basic information about such possibilities including government reports and FAQs about impacts, asteroids and comets.

Build Your Own Comet
Advice and a recipe for building a six inch comet. The site also provides basic information about comets.

Constellation Prizes
In this lesson plan, grade 6-12 students "learn about meteors, meteorites, and comets by reading and discussing a related New York Times article about the Leonid meteor showers and the methods that scientists are using to learn from these meteors. Students then create and observe a comet in their classroom."

Database of Terrestrial Impact Structures
Natural Resources Canada provides world maps identifying crater locations. Regional maps also offer links additional information about the craters. Be sure to look at the paper "Impact Cratering on Earth" for crater information, morphology, identification and hazards although the writing is at somewhat of an advanced level.

Explore Zone
EZ provides general information followed by a page with collections of news stories about the latest innovations, coolest discoveries and hottest events in world of science. Although not written specifically for kids, the articles provide information written appropriately for them

Impact Craters
A lesson for junior high students from NASA on impact craters. Topics include an explanation of impact craters, pseudocrates, and impact craters in other parts of the solar systems. The question of whether or not we are in danger is also addressed. A teacher's guide is available but doesn't appear to be linked from the student lesson site.

Meteorite and Impacts Advisory Committee (MIAC)
Three topics are discussed in this Canadian Space Agency site: meteorites, fireballs, and impact structures. General information about each is provided and there are some specific Canadian references as well.

This lesson from Newton's Apple introduces meteors and provides an activity where students can learn more about craters and what made them.

Sky and Telescope
The online version of the 58 year old magazine.
  • Asteroids Brief, general information about asteroids combined with related articles on hunting asteroids and seeing asteroids.

  • Comets General information about comets plus related articles on comet observing as well as specific comets.

  • Meteor Page General information about meteors as well as links to related articles on planning a meteor watch, observing meteors, meteors that changed the world, and information about specific meteor showers.

Small Comets
Learn more about the theory that millions of small comets strike the earth yearly and break up into water vapour. Some scientists believe that they are the source of water in Earth's oceans and atmosphere. Be sure to read the sections "The Original Discovery","Your Questions Answered", and "Latest News".

Solar System Collisions
Students are able to manipulate four variables (target, projectile composition, projectile diameter, and projectile velocity) to determine how they affect the impact of a collision of an asteroid or a comet on a solar body.

StarChild: The Solar System
StarChild is a comprehensive NASA site developed for elementary students. The above link is to their "Level 1" menu page on the solar system where you will find links to their sections on The Asteroid Belt, Comets, and Meteoroids. Each of these sections provides a brief introduction with all terms defined in a gloasary, a comprehension question, and a probing question. All pages come in two reading levels and can be printed.

Launched in February 99, StarDust is a NASA mission that will fly close to a comet and bring cometary material back to Earth. Their web site has: mission description, status reports, and details (e.g., scientific objectives, flight plans); explanations about comets; comet history; description of the spacecraft; overview and discussion of the scientific concepts involved in the mission; photos and images; and an education page with activities and a teacher guide.

TrackStar is an online interface which allows instructors to create lessons for students by sequencing existing instructional content in various web sites within a lesson. Students explore one topic at a particular location within one web site then move on to the next topic at another web site. The list of topics remains visible throughout the lesson so that students can remain on track. Explorations of the web sites beyond the designated instructional content are also possible.

This link is to their search page from where a keyword search on "asteroids or comets or meteors" will produce over a dozen hits. Note however that many of these hits will have the study of asteroids etc. as only a part of their overall lesson. Caution #1: Many of the web sites that these lessons access may already be on this CLN page - it's the creation of lesson objectives and the sequencing of the tours through the sites that make the lesson potentially useful to your students. Caution #2: The quality of the lessons (e.g., definining objectives, finding web sites, sequencing the tours) will vary widely within the TrackStar collection.

Views of the Solar System: Table of Contents
This site has sections covering a wide range of solar system topics. It can be difficult to find all of the good resources on the site since they do not appear to be all interlinked. Your best bet is to use this table of contents to browse through the asteroid, comet and meteor sections. You'll find introductions about each type of body, information about specific examples, images, explanations of various scientific phenomena, and a number of classroom activities.

[The] Why Files
  • Asteroids Answers to the following questions: What can they do? Will they obliterate Earth? How are asteroids found? Did asteroids deliver life? What are they made of?
  • Comets Information is organized under the following headings: Comet fiction; Comet facts; Do-it-yourself comet; Extrasolar what? Where do they come from? Could a comet crash into the Earth? Are they trying to tell us something? Are we listening?

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Note: The sites listed above will serve as a source of curricular content in Asteroids, Comets and Meteors. For other resources in Science (e.g., curricular content in Earth Science, General Science, Life Science, or Physical Science), or for lesson plans and theme pages, click the "previous screen" button below. Or, click here if you wish to return directly to the CLN menu which will give you access to educational resources in all of our subjects.

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