comets

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Before the seventeenth century, comets were considered portents-warning shots fired at a sinful Earth from the right hand of an avenging God. However, in the post-Newtonian era, when their paths were understood to intersect that of the Earth, they were considered actual agents of destruction. Experts have described comets as the carriers of both life-seeds to the early Earth and horrific missiles that will one day snuff out life as we know it. At one time or another, people have blamed comets for war and held responsible for the deaths of men, the birth of good wine, the London fire of 1666, severely cold weather, etc . . . If one central theme runs throughout history of comets, it must be the public concern they have commanded. Comets are ancient objects, formed in the outer reaches of the Solar System from the ice of gases such as methane, water vapor, and ammonia, combined with dust from primitive rock compounds. Sometimes comets are described as "dirty snowballs" because they are icy lumps, or wandering icebergs. Comets are relatively tiny- just a few miles across on average. Their nuclei are very different from glowing balls of light, with multimillion-mile-long tails. This is one reason comets occasionally visit the inner Solar S

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