Christmas Comet Leonard: You can see more Christmas magic than Santa’s reindeer by looking up at the comet. C/2021A1, this year’s brightest star, will shine in the skies each night as it race toward the sun.
Discovered by astronomer Greg Leonard in January, this ice-rich object is now visible from Earth through binoculars or small telescopes.
It will skim across the west-southwest horizon throughout December, making it a target for backyard stargazers.
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Christmas comet Leonard
The Christmas week can be a time for celebration, but also a chance to see something unusual in the night sky.
Leonard the comet, which came closest to Earth this year on December 12, is this year’s sight.
The comet will continue to shine throughout the holiday season, though its brightness and visibility are dependent on weather.
NASA says that if you are able to find clear skies on a dark night you will be able see the comet using binoculars.
You can spot the comet by looking at the Big Dipper’s handle and Arcturus (one of the brightest stars of the night), in this photo.
Although it may seem difficult to spot the comet through ordinary binoculars it will become brighter towards the horizon.
How to spot it
The comet, which has been streaking around the sun for the past year, is now close to Earth. It will be visible through telescopes and binoculars.
This ice-ball-sized visitor is officially called C/2021 A1, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it before it disintegrates.
It is located in Bootes constellation, near Ursa Major and Arcturus. This is the best spot to find it.
It is visible with small telescopes, although it could appear brighter over the next few days.
Greg Leonard, an astronomer, discovered the fuzzy object back in January. He has been following it since then.
It will pass closest to Earth on December 12 and should remain visible in the evening skies for a few days.
It’s where you should see it
This week, a once-in-a-lifetime sight will be streaking across the night sky. It’s comet Leonard – a mass of space dust, rock and ice about a half-mile wide – making its way inward to the Sun.
You can see it rising above the horizon about an hour after sunset if you are up for the challenge. The comet should be a little to the left of Venus, and will stay there through Christmas.
If you are in darkness, astronomers suggest that it can be seen with binoculars. It has a long tail, which extends away from the Sun.
There is also a coma made of dust and gas that can be seen behind it as a green glow.
The comet has been shining brighter ever since passing by the Sun. It will circle the Sun on January 3 at perihelion.
The comet’s coma and tail may be scattering sunlight, which can enhance views of the celestial object.
When to see it
This Christmas, you can catch a glimpse of a Christmas comet, which will be visible in the sky right through December.
C/2021A1, the ice ball is a C/2021A1 catalog. It will approach Earth in December 12, and then come closest to the sun in January.
NASA’s Solar Orbiter Heliospheric Imagingr (SoloHI), captured stunning photos of comet Leonard as it traveled through the night sky.
This video shows Leonard moving diagonally from right to left across the field of view, as it heads inbound toward the sun.
Although the comet will not be visible with your naked eyes, basic binoculars (7×35 and 10×50) should bring it to your attention.
It will be visible above the southwest horizon about 45 minutes after sunset.