Maine Skywatchers Will Have A Front Row Seat To See Comet Leonard
Over the last few years, we have had a few really rare celestial occurrences. For example, the Star of Bethlehem from December of 2020.
Well, you are only going to have one shot at seeing the Comet Leonard before it disappears forever. Well, technically not forever. But, considering it only comes through our region of space every 80,000 years, it might as well be forever.
According to WMTW, Comet Leonard was only recently discovered. It was first spotted by astronomer Greg Leonard in January of 2021.
Where Has It Been?
Experts say that it has spent the last 35,000 years traveling toward the sun. Once it swings through our solar system, it will head toward deep space and, in theory, arc back toward the sun tens of thousands of years from now. It is a fast comet, traveling at just under 160,000 miles per hour. That's about 44 miles per second!
Why Had It Not Been Spotted Before January?
Comet Leonard had not been spotted before earlier this year because it had not been close enough to the sun for a tail to form. The closer it gets to the sun, the warmer it gets. The warmer it gets, the more of it turns to gas, creating the visible tail.
How And When Can I See It?
It will makes it closest approach to Earth (about 21 million miles) on December 12th. It will be visible from pretty much everywhere on the planet. You won't need a telescope, but you are going to want to use binoculars. Experts at NASA say it will look like a fuzzy star.
Can I See It Online?
Yes! You'll be able to see it through the Virtual Telescope Project.
If you do have a chance to see it or, even better, photograph it, let us know. Message us through our app or on Facebook.