How to see the best comet of the year as it nears Earth

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How to see the year’s brightest comet, Leonard, , as it nears Earth.Leonard is a recently discovered comet...... that has been traveling for the past year from where it was first detected, close to Jupiter toward the sun.The comet is in the early morning sky right at the moment, ... , Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, via NPR News.... and that means getting up very early, probably around 5 a.m. or so and looking more or less to the northeast, Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, via NPR News.The comet will just be about half the width of a clenched fist to the left (of Arcturus). , Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, via NPR News.Arcturus is a star that appears low on the horizon, off the end of the Big Dipper constellation.Astronomers say that while it's thebrightest comet of the year.it will be best observed with a telescope.You might spot it with the unaided eye, but more likely, you're going to need binoculars (or) a telescope, Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, via NPR News.Astronomers also say it's difficult to tell whether or not the comet will be as bright as some comets of 2020.I wouldn't say this comet will be spectacular if you compare it to Comet Neowise, Peter Veres, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, via NPR News.The comet will likely be visible as soon as Dec. 6, but perhaps best viewed sometime later this month.The optimum time (at night) probably is from Dec. 17 on, Peter Veres, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, via NPR News.Those who miss the comet this month in North America will need to travel to South America to catch it later in the new year

First detected only a year ago, Leonard won’t be seen by Earthlings again after it passes the sun

Spotting Comet Leonard is a once in a lifetime event for those of us on Earth.

That’s because it will be ejected from our solar system after it passes the sun, Gianluca Masi, an astrophysicist and founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, told USA Today.

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Leonard has been on its journey to the sun for about 35,000 years since reaching aphelion, or its farthest distance from the sun, Bob King pointed out at Skyandtelescope.com in October.

The comet was discovered less than a year ago. Greg Leonard, senior researcher at the University of Arizona, first spotted it outside Tucson on Jan. 3.

According to EarthSky, Leonard is heading toward its perihelion, or closest point to the sun, on Jan. 3, 2022. It is already visible in the morning sky by using binoculars or a telescope, and will be seen in the evening sky later this month.

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Using a 45 second exposure, Greg Hogan in Kathleen, Ga., captured this photo of Comet Leonard at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 3.

Credit: EarthSky.com

Using a 45 second exposure, Greg Hogan in Kathleen, Ga., captured this photo of Comet Leonard at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 3.
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Using a 45 second exposure, Greg Hogan in Kathleen, Ga., captured this photo of Comet Leonard at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 3.

Credit: EarthSky.com

Credit: EarthSky.com

Starting Monday, Leonard can be seen left of the star Arcturus, one of the brightest stars seen from Earth and a “bright, orange star you can’t miss,” Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society. told USA Today.

The comet will be closest to Earth on Dec. 12, passing a little more than 21 million miles away. On Dec. 18, Leonard will be just 2.6 million miles from Venus.

EarthSky says Leonard might reach 4th magnitude before January, which means there is a chance you can see it with the naked eye in a dark sky. However, a 4th magnitude comet isn’t as bright as a 4th magnitude star, so you might want to use a telescope or binoculars.

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Where to see the comet

Clear skies are best for prime comet viewing. Skyglow, the light pollution caused by localized street lights, will block out the stars and negatively affect your viewing experience, so head somewhere far from city lights.

Georgians can head to anywhere in North Georgia, including Hiawassee and Young Harris. Popular stargazing parks include Hard Labor Creek State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center and Deerlick Astronomy Village.

Or you can head to Stephen C. Foster State Park, one of Georgia’s most remote state parks in the Okefenokee Swamp, which was named one of the best spots in the world for stargazing.

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