Space seems to have done its best to the end in 2021, as the arrival of the newly discovered comet Leonard will be one of the most prominent this year.
The comet discovered by Greg Leonard, a senior researcher at the University of Arizona, was first discovered on January 3 at the Mount Lemmon Observatory, just outside Tucson, Arizona.
Robert Lanceford of the American Meteor Organization told USA TODAY that the comet will be “the brightest comet of the year” rather than the most spectacular comet ever. With the help of binoculars and telescopes, people across the country can already start finding it in the sky, and it will be possible for people to see the comet with the naked eye for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Not so long.
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what Comet Leonard Special?
Recently discovered, comets will not last long. Gianluca Masi, an astrophysicist and founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, told USA TODAY that Comet Leonard is a long-period comet and rarely appears. In fact, the comet has not passed the Earth for more than 70,000 years, and after it has passed the Sun, it is released from the solar system and will never be seen again on Earth.
“This makes the comet’s observations even more exciting. You’ll say goodbye to this icy little world,” Mashi said.
Mashi said comets are unpredictable and can often divert and become more or less prominent. But if Leonard stays on the course, Lansford says it will have a brightness of the magnitude of 4, which is the same brightness as an average star.
When and how can you see it?
Unless you live in Antarctica, Lansford said that anyone on Earth can now see the comet. From now until December 13, you can observe comets in the dawn sky using binoculars and telescopes. On December 12, it will be the closest to Earth, 21.7 million miles away from Earth. If you can escape the light pollution, you will have more chances to see it.
“It’s turning down every morning,” Lansford said. “Maybe you can catch the comet’s tail.”
Mashi pointed out that the star will appear next to the global star cluster Mesier 3 on December 3rd. On December 6, Lansford said it was one of the brightest stars on Earth, “a bright, not-to-be-missed orange star.” It will also be the day when people may be able to see it with the naked eye.
From December 14th, the comet will be visible in the night sky and for several days you will not need any equipment to see it. Displayed next to Venus, according to Lansford, viewers will notice a comet between the horizon and Venus shortly after sunset on December 17. Early on December 18, Leonard will be 2.6 million miles away from Venus.
It disappears every day in the night sky, but you can find it with an instrument until around Christmas.
For those who can’t see it, the virtual telescope project The comet will be streamed at 10 pm EST on December 3rd.
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This article was originally published in USA TODAY: Comet Leonard: How to see the brightest comet of 2021 in December this year