How to catch your once-in-a-lifetime look at Comet Leonard

Your once-in-a-lifetime chance to look a inexperienced comet named C/2021 A1 — a.k.a. Leonard — is here. Astronomy experts, together with the comet’s discoverer, offer tips about while and how to peer the comet.

what is Comet C/2021 A1?

Like different comets, Leonard is a ball of frozen fuel, rocks and dirt. While its orbit brings it with reference to the solar, the warmth causes some of that subject matter to vapourize, which makes it glow and sprout a tail of gas and dust. 

Why is this comet inflicting such a lot pleasure?

Whilst many comets pass through our sun gadget, few come shut enough to the solar or the Earth for us to look them.

This week, it should be conceivable to peer Leonard even with out binoculars, the experts said.

“Brighter comets are rare, so it’s without a doubt worth making an attempt to see them,” said Chris Vaughan, an operator on the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill, Ont., and a volunteer with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Vaughan not too long ago published approximately Comet Leonard on his Astronomy Skylights blog.

#Astronomy #Skylights for this week, with world wide content material. Clear skies! (image from Gregg Ruppel)


Leonard’s discoverer, Greg Leonard, has came upon THIRTEEN comets, but said this one feels “like hitting the celestial jackpot,” because of how visual it will be. 

“it’s a real dream come actual and it’s very, very humbling,”  he instructed CBC’s As It Happens on Dec. 2.

While is the most efficient time to see the comet?

at the moment, the comet is visible within the Northern Hemisphere within the japanese sky to other people the usage of binoculars from any place in Canada within the early morning, he said. 

It’s anticipated to get brighter and toward the horizon each and every morning until Saturday, Dec. ELEVEN. 

Wonderful timelapse of comet leonard!


For people who want to see the comet, Vaughan recommends going out in the early morning over the next couple of days, if the sky is apparent. He said a space away from town lighting fixtures, with a clear view of the horizon to the east, would provide the best view. Through returning on next mornings, you have to be in a position to realize the amendment, he said.

If the elements co-operates, Friday and Saturday mornings around 6 a.m. could also be the most productive bets for a fair view. At that point, Vaughan said, Leonard should still be high enough that it won’t be blocked by way of trees and houses or distorted through the atmosphere.  

On Sunday, Dec. 12, the comet should make its closest solution to Earth, then disappear the next day for Northern Hemisphere viewers.

It’s anticipated to go back Monday after sunset, because it heads clear of the Earth toward the solar, getting fainter over the next weeks.

“but it’ll by no means get very prime above the horizon,” Vaughan mentioned. “The pre-daybreak is your perfect chance for viewing, the following few days.”

How can you in finding it within the evening sky?

It will be in the japanese sky beneath and to the left of the bright star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. 

How to catch your once-in-a-lifetime look at Comet Leonard

This map of the sky at 6 a.m. (regardless of the place you’re in Canada) shows where to seem for Comet Leonard this week. It Is based on a diagram created by Chris Vaughan with the instrument Stellarium for his blog Astronomy Skylights on his website online, AstroGeo. (CBC Information)

Justin Anderson, an astro-photographer who lives north of Brandon, Man., managed to capture the comet earlier this week, and said he plans to keep going out to take more photos.

He stated he makes use of cellular apps similar to Celebrity Walk and Stellarium that allow you to indicate your phone up on the sky, show a map of the celebrities in that region and pinpoint the place the comet is predicted to be.

“With binoculars, it was once beautiful tough to find it, simply because the tail is quite dim,” Anderson mentioned. 

It’s easier to find with a digicam, he stated, which is more sensitive to faint items than our eyes. The camera doesn’t need to be fancy, Anderson mentioned, despite the fact that zooming in might help. 

“Put your digicam in that course and take a photo if you happen to do not see it,” he said. “chances are you’ll have to move it a bit of bit more and take any other photograph until you do see it. but it may be very inexperienced at the camera, and also you do see a little bit little bit of a tail behind it.”

Lovely excited to have captured a meteor beside @Comet2021a1 remaining evening!
this is a deepscape symbol at 85mm.
Single 30s, f/THREE.5, ISO 2000

20 x ISO 12,800, f/3.5, 4s


Whilst will it come into view to the bare eye?

As of Dec. 7, Leonard was once 46.25 million kilometres away, with a brightness importance of 6.9. it’s going to need to succeed in a magnitude between four and five to be visual in rural areas, Vaughan mentioned,which it is predicted to do that weekend.

The @cometleonard Twitter account provides common updates on the comet’s value.

i am 46.25 million km away from Earth. you’ll spot me near the Bootes constellation. My present magnitude is 6.9, so i am NOT VISIBILE to the naked eye but#comet #cometc2021a1 #cometLEONARD #C2021A1 #FollowTheComet


Importance five is dimmer than remaining year’s Comet NEOWISE, which topped out between magnitude one and two, very similar to the North Big Name, Polaris. 

However nobody knows if Comet Leonard will observe predictions.

“the only thing consistent about comets is their unpredictability,” stated Greg Leonard. “And a well-known comet hunter once said comets are like cats. Both have tails and both do exactly what they want.”

Where did Comet Leonard get its name?

Comets are in most cases named after their discoverers.  Greg Leonard works for the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in Tucson, looking and tracking close to-Earth asteroids.

“once in a while, we stumble into an unknown comet,” he informed CBC.

this is actually now not the one Comet Leonard. Greg Leonard has discovered 12 other comets — all referred to as Leonard.

But they all have different years, letters and numbers attached.

How to catch your once-in-a-lifetime look at Comet Leonard

Greg Leonard poses with the Catalina Sky Survey Telescope, used to find near-Earth asteroids. Even As doing that, he has discovered THIRTEEN comets, all named after him, together with Comet Leonard C/2021a1. (C. Scherer)

On Jan. 3, C/2021 A1 became the primary comet came upon this year. The “A” manner it was once discovered within the first half of January.

Why can we handiest get one chance to look it?

Comet Leonard is anticipated to go through once and never once more.

The comet formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago and is derived from approximately 550 million kilometres away, or 3700 instances the space between the solar and the Earth. 

“it has been inbound toward the interior sun system for the previous 35,000 years,” Leonard stated. 

It’s zooming thru house at 70 kilometres in keeping with 2nd, he mentioned. “That’s sufficient speed for it to get flung clear of our sun machine.”

it may arrive in any other famous person machine millions and tens of millions of years from now.

within the interim, “simply delight in that this gorgeous celestial object is up within the sky,” Leonard mentioned. 

“I certain desire everybody transparent skies and the opportunity to have a glance and notice it for themselves.” 

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