Date: 1993 - 1999
Please tell me about oort clouds. My student would like to do
a science fair project on the subject and I am looking for reference
materials to help her.
The Oort Cloud (note: singular tense) is the theoretical
region associated with our solar system where most comets
spend most of their time. This is possible because most
comets have highly elliptical orbits. Look for a college
undergraduate text book on astronomy. This may be beyond
the level of a high school student, but a possible project
might be to use the orbital parameters of known reappearing
comets to calculate the dimensions of the Oort Cloud.
It would also be interesting to learn more about Prof. Oort.
and how he came up with the idea.
John (e-mail hawley)
The best writeup on the Oort cloud of the astronomy texts I have is
"Exploration of the Universe" by Abell, Morrison, and Wolff. Some astronomers
believe that in addition to the Oort cloud, there is another reservoir of comets
(the source of "short-period" comets) called the Kuiper belt.
I consulted the online Reader's Guide and found some magazine articles that,
from the abstracts, look promising:
Sky and Telescope Jan. '93 p. 15, p. 26-9
Sky and Telescope Apr. '93 p. 44-5 < -- about Jan Oort
Astronomy Sept. '92 p. 40-7
Discover Feb. '91 p. 8
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Update: June 2012