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Tags: comet leonard | earth | approach

Comet Leonard Makes Its Closest Approach to Earth

Comet Leonard Makes Its Closest Approach to Earth
The Milky Way galaxy. (Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty)
 

By    |   Sunday, 12 December 2021 08:23 PM

Comet Leonard, whose orbit takes some 80,000 years to travel around the sun and was discovered earlier this year, made its closest approach to Earth on Sunday, Space.com reported.

The comet, which was discovered by astronomer Gregory Leonard of the Mount Lemmon Infrared Observatory in Arizona, passes some 21 million miles away on Sunday and should be visible from the Northern Hemisphere depending on weather conditions, according to EarthSky.com

By later this month and in January, the comet should become visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.

Monday "will be the last morning the comet will be visible in the morning sky until March of 2022 when it will only be visible through a large telescope," according to a NASA guide.

The guide added that "if the comet is giving off a lot of dust, this should make the peak brighter due to forward scattering, which could shift the peak later toward December 14."

EarthSky.com emphasized that Leonard is an ultrafast comet traveling at 158,084 miles per hour relative to Earth.

Last month, astronomers started to observe that the comet appeared to be fading, according to Space.com

Quanzhi Ye, an astronomer at the University of Maryland who specializes in comets, told Space.com. that "it's not great news. The comet should be brighter and brighter. If it's not getting brighter then something's wrong, but we don't know exactly what at this stage."

He added that the most likely hypothesis is that the comet is already splitting up, or it will start to do so relatively soon.

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Comet Leonard, whose orbit takes some 80,000 years to travel around the sun and was discovered earlier this year, made its closest approach to Earth on Sunday, Space.com reported.
comet leonard, earth, approach
253
2021-23-12
Sunday, 12 December 2021 08:23 PM
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