DR. SKY BLOG

Discovered by Arizona researcher, Comet Leonard will catch looks soon

Dec 1, 2021, 2:00 PM
Comet Leonard (Wikimedia/University of Hertfordshire Photo)...
(Wikimedia/University of Hertfordshire Photo)

The true remnants of the evolution of our solar system, comets, are some of the most amazing objects to study and view.

With the dark of the moon coming and a new moon Thursday we have an opportunity to view one of these amazing celestial visitors. Welcome to a new comet, Comet Leonard C/2021 A1, soon to be visible with binoculars and possibly the naked eye.

Comet Leonard was discovered in Arizona by UArizona astronomer Greg Leonard.

The comet will slowly make its way across Arizona skies and reach perihelion, the closest point in its orbit to the sun, on Jan. 3.

Right now the comet is brightening and is an early morning object in the northeastern sky before dawn.

As the moon return to its new phase in early December, you can expect, with clear skies, to catch a view of this interesting object.

Here we list the details on the orbital portion of Comet Leonard.

Here we list the live location and related details on Comet Leonard.

For those of you with binoculars and telescopes, these finder charts are of great help.

Naming of comets is a rather interesting story too.

You might have the ability to go down in history if you are one of the first three people to actually discover a confirmed comet. That story is here.

Comet Leonard may become as bright as plus-4 in magnitude by the end of December and into January 2022. But with comets, you can never tell.

Here is a graphic of what where the comet will be in early December skies.

As the comet approaches the sun it will also pass Earth on Dec.12 at a distance of around 21 million miles. It will get rather close to the planet Venus on Dec. 18 by a little more that 2.6 million miles.

Over the years, I have observed many comets both faint and very bright.

I can tell you that this is one of the most amazing views that I have ever experienced and look forward to your thoughts on this object at drskyshow@gmail.com

As the comet gets closer to the sun in late December, it may become visible just after sunset in the southwestern sky in this graphic.

Best of luck in finding this celestial visitor and for some it may be their first!

One additional comet has been in the news too, a comet which may be one of the largest seen in a long time.

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein may be one of the largest comets ever discovered and is headed too the inner solar system.

Here are the details on this discovery.

We will keep you posted on all the activity with these two new comets.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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Discovered by Arizona researcher, Comet Leonard will catch looks soon