DR. SKY BLOG

An update on Comet Leonard discovered by UArizona astronomer

Dec 15, 2021, 2:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

The first discovered comet of 2021, Comet Leonard C/2021/ A1 is making news around the world as it gets closer to Earth and the planet Venus and finally its main event with the sun.

The comet will reach its closest position to the sun (perihelion) Jan. 3. This is one year to the date when it was discovered by University of Arizona astronomer Greg Leonard of the Catalina Sky Survey.

More on Leonard.

I had the opportunity to interview the discoverer of this amazing comet and that interview is here.

The comet approached the Earth at its closest over the weekend at the safe distance of just around 21 million miles.

Comet Leonard has been a bit difficult to find in our Phoenix skies as it is just near the limit of naked eye visibility and slowly brightening.

There is still time to catch a view of this interesting object which will never return to our skies in our lifetimes.

The comet will mover rapidly from the predawn skies to a potential view in our early evening skies later this week.

Binoculars are suggested, as the comet will still be in a twilight sky at best. My suggestion for a possible view of Comet Leonard will occur on Wednesday evening, low in the southwestern sky.

Here is a graphic to help illustrate the location of the comet.

A better opportunity exists on Friday evening.

For those of you that have advanced experience with larger telescopes, we offer this great site to help you track the comet in real time.

One more amazing fact: Comet Leonard will pass very close to the planet Venus on Saturday at the incredible distance of only 2.6 million miles…very close by planet and comet standards.

Here is a listing of the close passes to Earth in recorded history.

Best of luck in viewing the comet.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

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.

Dr. Sky Blog

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An update on Comet Leonard discovered by UArizona astronomer