Newly Found Comet Leonard will be one of the most visible this year. The arrival comes nearly a year after it was first discovered around Jupiter in January 2021. Its closest approach to Earth (and even closer approach to Venus) still to come, comet Leonard will grow brighter as December goes by. Dramatic Images of Comet Atlas Blast by Hubble Space Telescope Reveal Break-up of Solid Nucleus (See Pics)
The comet will fly closest to Earth on December 12, just a couple of weeks before it reaches its closest distance from the Sun.
The comet was first discovered by astronomer Gregory J Leonard earlier this year and it was later named after him. A senior research specialist, he spotted the faint object, which was extremely dim and was just starting to release it’s heated up gas and dust. At the time, the comet was 149.565 million kilometres from the Sun near the orbit of Jupiter.
According to astronomers, the reason behind its brightness could be its orbit itself, which demonstrates that it is not a "new" comet coming directly from the Oort cloud.
Since the object has been far away from solar rays for so long it could have frozen carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide, which vapourise giving it a high brightness. Leonard’s comet has spent roughly 35,000 years getting closer to our sun and has finally made its way closer to Earth’s neck of the universe. It’s expected to be the brightest comet of the year. Stunning Time-Lapse Shows Comet NEOWISE With a Tail Light Moving Across Skies Over Hokkaido in Japan, Beautiful Video of Celestial Event Goes Viral
The comet will be visible a couple of hours before sunrise, low in the east-northeast sky through the constellations Coma Berenices, Boötes and Serpens Caput. The comet will pass between the brightest star of the Bootes constellation, Arcturus, and the handle of the Big Dipper asterism during the closest approach to our planet. While comet Leonard will be closest to Earth on December 12, astronomers suggest that it will be best visible on December 17.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 09, 2021 11:53 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).