MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – A new comet is now visible in the morning sky. The comet is making it’s closest approach to earth on Dec. 12. According to NASA will still be about 22 million miles away.
Comet C/2021 (Leonard) was discovered by Gregory Leonard on Jan. 3, 2021. Now, Vice President of the Miami Valley Astronomical Club, John Graham photographed the comet.
“It was discovered last January, so we’ve been waiting all year for it,” Graham said.
He said the celestial object isn’t easy to see.
“I have photographed it, and I’ve seen it several times with my cameras. I have not seen it visually through my telescope yet, and I’m not certain I will,” Graham said. “Cameras are very good at collecting light. The purpose of photography is to make the invisible visible.”
According to NASA comets are difficult to predict, but Comet Leonard should peak with enough brightness to be spotted with a telescope or binoculars.
“My suggestion is to just be patient,” Graham said, “it may take a few minutes for your eyes to catch it, but once they do it becomes obvious. This is a very common experience, and seeing something for the first time is always a thrill.”
The NASA forecast keeps Comet Leonard in the morning sky through December 10. Look east and you will find it near the horizon south of the big dipper about two hours before sunrise.
“Friday and Saturday is probably about our last chance to see it in the morning sky, “Graham said. “It’s then going to disappear into the glare of the sun for a few days and then reappear in the evening starting on about the 14th.”
Graham suggests finding Venus in the southwestern sky about an hour after sunset. On Dec. 14 it will be southeast of Venus just above the horizon. On December 17 the comet will be just south of the planet, and on Dec. 25 it will be due west. The brightness will fade everyday.
“This is its one and only trip past the sun,” Graham said. “It will never come back. so this is the one any only chance anybody is ever going to have to see this comet.”