The ‘CHRISTMAS COMET’ is Getting Brighter and Closer
Comet – C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is currently heading this way and will end its 80,000-year journey to zoom around the sun on January 3, 2022.
Comet Leonard can currently be found in the morning sky (just before sunrise), but in mid-December, it will become visible in the evening sky.
If you look east about 90 minutes before the sun rises, you might be able to see it with binoculars or a telescope. The Big Dipper’s handle will be pointing towards the horizon and comet Leonard will be just to the right of the handle’s tip.
Around December 14-16, Comet Leonard will become visible just after sunset, very low on the southwest horizon. On December 17, the comet will be directly below Venus about 30 minutes after sunset. (shortly after 5 PM)
Comet Leonard will be closest to Earth on December 12 – although it won’t be THAT close – over 21 million miles away.
Will we be able to see it with the naked eye? Maybe, but not yet. But you CAN see it now with binoculars or a telescope on a dark, clear sky.
But after this, you will NEVER see Comet Leonard again. Initial observations suggest this comet completes an orbit around the sun in about 80,000 years. To give you an idea of long it takes this comet to orbit the sun – for the past 12 years, it has been inside the orbit of Neptune.
It likely won’t be as bright as Comet NEOWISE in July 2020 -- and unlike NEOWISE, you’ll have to bundle up to get a good view of Comet Leonard.
After it waves goodbye to Earth, it’s going to get real close to Venus, a mere 2.6 million miles as it heads back to deep space. In space terms, that’s close.
How many comets are out there? According to NASA, as of September 2021, the current number of known comets is 3,743.
Given its proximity to December 25th, it's been dubbed, 'The Christmas Comet.'
You can watch a Livestream of Comet Leonard below:
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