Comet A1 Leonard Brightens in December

Comet A1 Leonard
Comet A1 Leonard near the galaxy NGC 4395 in mid-November. Credit and copyright: Michael Jäger

Now is the time to start tracking Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard, as it starts its dawn dive sunward.

The days following New Year’s 2021 saw a comet discovery with potential. On the night of January 3rd, exactly one year to the day prior to perihelion, astronomer Gregory J. Leonard working at the Mount Lemmon Observatory near Tucson Arizona discovered the first long-period comet of the year, C/2021 A1 Leonard. Shining at magnitude +19 and 5 Astronomical Units (AU) distant (about the distance of Jupiter from the Sun) at the time of discovery, early indications hinted that comet A1 Leonard might prove to be something special, come the end of 2021.

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Catch This Season’s ‘Other’ Comet: S2 PanSTARRS

Comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS, imaged on October 10th, 2015. Image credit and copyright: Tom Wildoner

Now is the time to catch binocular Comet C/2014 S2 PanSTARRS, as it tops +8 magnitude ahead of predictions this month and crosses circumpolar northern skies. Will this Christmas comet stay bright post-perihelion, rivaling other comets into early 2016?  Continue reading “Catch This Season’s ‘Other’ Comet: S2 PanSTARRS”