A comet is approaching the Earth, which promises to be the brightest this year. She is called Leonard, or Leonard (C / 2021 A1). On December 12, 2021, it will pass 35 million kilometers from our planet. Presumably, it can be seen with the naked eye.
The comet is moving at an impressive speed of 254,412 km / h or about 70.7 km / sec relative to the Earth. It was discovered by the American astronomer Gregory Leonard from Mount Lemmon Observatory (Arizona) on January 3, 2021, after which it got its name.
Observations with a telescope already show the tail of a comet, which is moving towards the Sun and will reach the closest point to the celestial body on January 3, 2022. At this time, it will be at a distance of about 91 million kilometers from the Sun and will become visible in the Earth’s night sky.
According to NASA’s (JPL) laboratory, the comet is expected to approach Earth on December 12 at a distance of about 35 million km, which is far enough to be easily seen with the naked eye, but it will be visible through binoculars or small telescope. After December 12, Comet Leonard will orbit Venus, and then in the northern hemisphere it can be seen low on the southwestern horizon just after sunset. On December 18, it will pass much closer to Venus, at a distance of only 4.2 million km.
In the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, the comet will be available for observation in December. From December 1 to December 13, she will quickly move against the background of the constellations Dogs Hounds, Bootes, Serpent, Hercules and Ophiuchus. It will be possible to see her in the morning and in the evening.
According to experts, the comet took tens of thousands of years to complete a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun, since its previous orbit, the farthest distance from our star, is estimated at about 3,500 astronomical units (it is equal to the average distance from the Sun to the Earth, or 149,565,894 km ). After a “circumnavigation” of the Sun at the start of the new year, the comet is expected to disappear outside the solar system and will never be visible again.