• Question: Can comets passing the Earth affect the tides like the moon does?

    Asked by Arianna to Daniel, Maggie, Ry, Scott on 15 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Ry Cutter

      Ry Cutter answered on 15 Nov 2017:

      Luckily not very much, it would be a problem if they could pull the tides. Like pulling a whisk out of the bowl and the mix flying everywhere!
      They’re so small and moving so quickly that there isn’t enough time or gravity to have a big influence on the tides. If a comet does get close enough to Earth to pass through the atmosphere it can have up to three tails! Which is super pretty 😀

    • Photo: Maggie Lieu

      Maggie Lieu answered on 15 Nov 2017:

      The moon affects our tides because of the gravitational force of it. Two things define gravity, mass and distance. The more mass the more gravity and the closer it is the stronger the force.

      But comets are usually have much less mass than the moon. For example the comet that the Rosetta space craft visited weighed a hundred billion times less than the moon so its gravity is much smaller. Also its quite rare that comets come very close to the Earth so I dont think they affect the tides very much