Comet Leonard is bright and visible this month before it disappears forever

The comet was first discovered in January of this year by astronomer Greg Leonard.

Leonard, a senior research fellow at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, began tracking the dim light on January 3.

“The fact that the tails appear in those images is remarkable, considering that the comet is about 465 million miles from Earth (from Earth), about the same distance from Jupiter (from Earth), he said. ),” he said.

The celestial body likely spent the last 35,000 years traveling towards the sun, according to Sky & Telescope, and once it passes close to our star on January 3, we will no longer see the comet.

As the comet approaches the sun, it lights up, which is why the weeks leading up to the event make the comet easier to see.

Follow EarthSky.
This NASA illustration shows a comet as it approaches the interior of the solar system.

Comet Leonard made its closest approach to Earth on December 12, arriving 21 million miles (34 million km) from our planet. The comet will be visible in the skies of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres this month.

Look for a low object like a dim star in the evening sky just after sunset. The comet will then be swept by Venus on December 17.

“There’s a small chance Venus will pass close enough to the comet’s path where it could pick up some dust in its atmosphere, creating a meteor shower over our neighboring planet. “, said Leonard.

Use Venus, which is now clearly visible in the Southwest sky around sunset, as a way to help you find comets.

“Starting December 13, this comet will appear very low above the horizon shortly after sunset,” Leonard said. “It will cross the southwest-west horizon between now and around Christmas. The fact that it’s so close to the horizon makes this comet a bit difficult to see.”

The largest known comet is getting close enough to us to be seen

It’s difficult to predict how much we might see a comet, but you’ll probably need binoculars to spot one, according to NASA.

“I feel that there will be something to be seen even for casual observers,” said Leonard. “Find yourself a dark sky with a good view of the horizon, bring binoculars, and I think you might be rewarded.”

It’s possible that skywatchers will see Leonard’s Comet with the naked eye, but if you’re worried about missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience, Virtual Telescope Project will share a live stream from its observatory in Rome.

Most comets with long orbital periods, like Comet Leonard, come from the Oort Cloud, a large icy region that surrounds our solar system. It is too far from Earth to ever be visited by spacecraft.

“When the tug-of-war is won by our solar system’s gravity, an object can begin to move inward, accelerating as it gets closer to the sun,” says Leonard.

As the comet gets close to the sun, these giant ice balls begin to shed some of their material, forming a halo or coma around the object. The dust and gas behind comets form their extremely long tails. Most comets are only visible to us as they pass through the inner solar system, where Earth is located, during their long orbits above the sun.

Understanding comets could open the door to the formation of our sun and solar system because they act like cosmic time capsules of matter.

“Despite our amazing science about comets, they’re still very unpredictable in terms of their size, shape, chemical makeup, and behavior,” says Leonard. “A wise and famous comet discoverer once said: ‘Comets are like cats – both have tails, and both do exactly what they want.”

Ancient human ancestors may have witnessed Leonard’s Comet the last time it passed by Earth about 80,000 years ago. But it won’t come back again.

“This is the last time we see a comet,” Leonard said. “It is accelerating at an escape velocity, 44 mph. After firing a slingshot around the sun, it will be ejected from our solar system and it could crash into another star system by millions of times. years from now.”


Source link


News7h: Update the world's latest breaking news online of the day, breaking news, politics, society today, international mainstream news .Updated news 24/7: Entertainment, the World everyday world. Hot news, images, video clips that are updated quickly and reliably

Related Articles

Back to top button