For Further Exploration: Comets and Asteroids: Debris of the Solar System



Asphang, E. "The Small Planets." Scientific American (May 2000): 46. On asteroids, including results from the NEAR mission.

Beatty, J. "The Falcon’s Wild Flight." Sky & Telescope (September 2006): 34. On the Japanese mission to asteroid Itakawa.

Beatty, J. "NEAR Falls for Eros." Sky & Telescope (May 2001): 35. On the first landing on an asteroid.

Betz, E. "Dawn Mission Reveals Dwarf Planet Ceres." Astronomy (January 2016): 44. First images and discoveries.

Binzel, R. "A New Century for Asteroids." Sky & Telescope (July 2001): 44. Nice overview.

Boslaugh, M. "In Search of Death-Plunge Asteroids." Astronomy (July 2015): 28. On existing and proposed programs to search for Earth-crossing asteroids.

Cooke, B. "Fatal Attraction." Astronomy (May 2006): 46. On near-Earth asteroid Apophis, its orbit, and what we can learn from it.

Durda, D. "Odd Couples." Astronomy (December 2005): 54. On binary asteroids.

Durda, D. "All in the Family." Astronomy (February 1993): 36. Discusses asteroid families.

Oberg, J. "2013’s Historic Russian Meteorite Fall" Astronomy (June 2012): 18. On the Chelyabinsk event.

Sheppard, S. "Dancing with the Planets." Sky & Telescope (June 2016): 16. On Trojan asteroids that "follow" planets like Jupiter.

Talcott, R. "Galileo Views Gaspra." Astronomy (February 1992): 52.

Yeomans, D. "Japan Visits an Asteroid." Astronomy (March 2006): 32. On the Hayabusa probe exploration of asteroid Itakawa.

Zimmerman, R. "Ice Cream Sundaes and Mashed Potatoes." Astronomy (February 1999): 54. On the NEAR mission.


Aguirre, E. "The Great Comet of 1997." Sky & Telescope (July 1997): 50. On Comet Hale-Bopp.

Bakich, M. "How to Observe Comets." Astronomy (December 2009): 50. A guide for amateur astronomers.

Gore, R. "Halley’s Comet ’86: Much More Than Met the Eye." National Geographic (December 1986): 758. (Also, the March 1987 issue of Sky & Telescope was devoted to what we learned from Halley’s Comet in 1986.)

Hale, A. "Hale-Bopp Plus Ten." Astronomy (July 2005): 76. The co-discoverer of a naked-eye comet tells the story of the discovery and what followed.

Jewett, D. "Mysterious Travelers: Comet Science." Sky & Telescope (December. 2013): 18. Nice summary of what we know about comets and questions we have.

Rao, J. "How Often do Bright Comets Appear?" Sky & Telescope (November 2013): 30. Nice summary of bright comets in the last century and what factors make a comet spectacular in our skies.

Sekanina, Z. "Sungrazing Comets." Astronomy (March 2006): 36.

Sheppard, S. "Beyond the Kuiper Belt." Sky & Telescope (March 2015): 26. On Sedna and the Oort cloud.

Stern, S. "Evolution at the Edge." Astronomy (September 2005): 46. How comet nuclei evolve with time.

Talcott, R. "Rendezvous with an Evolving Comet [Rosetta at Comet 67P/C-G]." Astronomy (September 2015): 44.

Tytell, D. "Deep Impact’s Hammer Throw." Sky & Telescope (October 2006): 34. On the mission that threw a probe at the nucleus of a comet. See also (June 2005): 40.

Weissman, P. "A Comet Tale." Sky & Telescope (February 2006): 36. A nice review of what we know and don’t know about the physical nature of comets.



  • Dawn Mission: Discover more about this mission to the largest asteroids.
  • NEAR-Shoemaker Mission: Review background information and see great images from the mission that went by Mathilde and Eros.


  • Deep Impact Mission
  • Kuiper Belt: David Jewitt of the University of Hawaii keeps track of the objects that have been discovered.
  • Missions to Comets: Read about NASA’s current and past missions to comets.
  • Stardust Mission: Learn about this mission to collect a sample of a comet and bring it back to Earth.



Sweating the Small Stuff: The Fear and Fun of Near-Earth Asteroids: Harvard Observatory Night Lecture by Jose-Luis Galache (1:18:07)

Unveiling Dwarf Planet Ceres: A vonKarman Lecture by Dr. Carol Raymond, Oct. 2015, also includes Vesta results (1:18:38)


Rosetta: The Story So Far: Royal Astronomical Society Lecture by Dr. Ian Wright (1:00:29)

Great Comets, Comets in General, and Comet ISON: Talk by Frank Summers, Space Telescope Science Institute (1:01:10)

Press Conference on the Impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter: Day 2 after impact; July 17, 1994; with the discoverers and Heidi Hammel (1:22:29)


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