Comet Tail Myths
Your answer on the comet tail makeup
fleshing out please. This giant comet McNaught coming through soon
has a whopper of a tail 1 million kilometers long. I would very much
appreciate to know what happens to earthlings and their satellite
communications if we pass through the tail? Some ions are healthy
for us right? The ones you listed don't look very healthy. What
about metals, gases. Do we all die the death? Is there going to be
You may have heard the expression "the dose makes the poison." That
certainly applies here. Although the substances making up comets do
not support human life, and in fact some of the components are toxic
to humans, a comet's tail is so tenuous that it doesn't make any
discernible addition to the Earth's atmosphere even if the Earth
passes through a comet's tail.
When Earth passes through a comet's tail or orbital track, however,
there can be very nice meteor showers.
Richard Barrans, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming
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Update: June 2012