After several months of waiting, the most promising comet for sky watchers this year is finally approaching and becoming more visible.
Beginning of 2021,, now better known as Comet Leonard. At the time, it was heading our way from deep space with the potential to be the brightest comet of the year.
No other superstar comet capable of surpassing Leonard has emerged yet, so it looks like the luminous Lenny will realize her potential in the coming month.
“There is a chance that this comet can easily be seen with the naked eye, even in less than optimal conditions,” writes astronomer Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project, based in Italy.
Of course, comets are sadly fickle in their planes and can disintegrate almost anytime at any time as they get closer to the sun.
But if Leonard survives to live up to astronomers’ most optimistic predictions, the big space snowball will pass close to Earth in December when it can be seen with binoculars or maybe even without them. From there it passes close to the sun and returns to deep space in January.
A number of astrophotographers have already managed to snap some pretty impressive photos of Leonard sporting a green coma with an elongated, sleek tail.
Leonard likely won’t be able to see without lenses until at least mid-December, but you may already be able to see him through binoculars. Over the next few weeks, it is mostly visible in the early morning hours before sunrise. As the year begins to draw to a close, it can be spotted in the evening sky.
To see what has at least a chance of being a once in a lifetime cosmic event, I recommend putting your location in a tracking app or website like TheSkyLive to get the best times and which direction to look. For people in North America like me, mark your calendars for December 14th, which is right after the comet has passed through Earth and when it will become visible just above the horizon after sunset for some time. many viewers.
While we can’t say for sure what kind of show Leonard will be presenting just yet, we do know that this will be our only chance to see him up close: his journey from deep space so far is estimated to have taken. about 35,000 years old.