Comet Leonard unexpectedly lights up, offering one last chance to see it

This is the last chance to see Comet Leonard from anywhere in the world before it is expelled from our solar system.

On December 12, a Comita Leonard It was his closest comet with the Earth: on its long way to the inner planets of the solar system, the brightest comet of 2021 passed at a distance of no less than 34.9 million km from our planet towards the sun.

Although the first accounts indicated the dawn The days leading up to its perigee (its orbit point closest to Earth) was the best time to spot it, Leonard The brightness has increased suddenly in the last few hours, Offer one last chance to see him in mid-December.

c2021 / A1 Leonard desde el espacio. Foto: Zhuoxiao Wang Yangwang 1 Space Telescope. Origin.Space

How to see Comet Leonard from December 15 to 19

On December 15, Leonard arrived at Size 2.6It is enough to notice the glare of his coma with the naked eye under ideal conditions. And although its brightness will likely decrease gradually as it moves away from our planet, sunset from December 16 to 19 is the last window in which the comet’s passage can be seen from the night sky in Both hemispheres.

In both the northern and southern hemispheres, Comet Leonard will appear as soon as the sun sets on the horizon at dusk. The best way to find it is by orienting yourself Venus, the brightest star looks to the southeast.

Once you locate Venus, Leonard will find himself Closer to the horizon in a downtrendNear Sagittarius:

Comita Leonard
The position of Comet Leonard in the sky over Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 16, 2021 at 9:00 p.m. Photo: Stellarium
Comita Leonard
The position of Comet Leonard in the sky over central Mexico on December 16, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Photo: Stellarium

As the days progress, Leonard will set himself up higher and higher on the horizon; However, it will continue to move away from Earth thus Its brightness will diminish until it disappears in the night sky. Although in ideal conditions it would be possible to see it with the naked eye as a faint star, with a telescope or binoculars it would be possible to capture more details, such as a coma or its tail.

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Traveling at 71 kilometers per second, Leonard would reach a sufficient escape velocity to bid farewell to the solar system. After reaching rock bottom (The point in its orbit where it is closest to the Sun) on January 2, 2022, comet They will be expelled from our cosmic neighborhood, ending a journey that began 35,000 years ago in the Oort Cloud, at the edge of the Solar System.

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Lovell Loxley

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