Comet Leonard will soon give a unique salute to Earth.
The astro – baptized by some means as the “Christmas comet” – was discovered only in January of this year, when it was between Mars and Jupiter, and NASA scientists have already traced the orbit that it is following towards the Sun.
The good news is that Leonard can be seen with the naked eye in Latin American countries. Of course, the weather conditions must be optimal to appreciate Leonard before dawn.
It will be in the middle of December, between 12 and 14, when it can be appreciated in a better way, as it will be at its closest point to Earth.
However, scientists cannot pinpoint an exact date on when it will offer its greatest splendor because the dust and gas that emanate are unpredictable.
“Although comets are notoriously difficult to predict, by some estimates Comet Leonard will become visible to the naked eye in December,” explains NASA.
When and from where will it be seen?
Named C / 2021 A1, the comet discovered by Gregory J. Leonard – hence its name – was initially seen “as a faint blob” in early 2021, when it passed the orbit of Mars.
Subsequent observations and analysis showed scientists that it is a comet with a long orbit period, about 80,000 years, so its appearance near the Earth it is an exceptional show.
On December 12, Leonard will be at his closest point to Earth’s trajectory, almost 35 million kilometers away.
Around that date, before dawn, Leonard will be seen by the naked eye almost anywhere in the world.
In the case of America, the northern hemisphere will have a better perspective of its closest approach to the planet. This means that in North and Central American countries, as well as the Caribbean, it may be appreciated by the east of the horizon.
In the second half of December, it will reverse its position from north to south, NASA explains, so that the countries of South America could see it in its distance from Earth near the western horizon line.
Clear sky conditions will allow for a dim view of the comet’s tail with the naked eye. But binoculars or binoculars can make it easier to locate and track.
NASA captured an image of Leonard just over a week ago, when he already sported a cloud of green dust and gas and the characteristic dust “tail” that these space objects have.
“The presented image was composed of 62 photos taken through a moderate-sized telescope: One set of exposures tracks the comet, while another set tracks the background stars, “explains NASA.
After reaching his perihelion, the closest point in his orbit to the Sun, Leonard will return to the depths of space on a path of thousands of years.