Space travel! After 70,000 years, Comet Leonard heads towards Earth; check date now | Tech News

Space travel! After 70,000 years, Comet Leonard heads towards Earth; check date now

Comet Leonard is expected to be seen this December. Check where and when it will be visible.

| Updated on: Dec 03 2021, 13:02 IST
Leonard Comet
The Comet Leonard was discovered as recently as in January. (NASA)

Skywatchers have just got some great news! They have an opportunity to watch a never-before seen comet streak by Earth very soon. A cosmic visitor is heading towards Earth. Comet named C/2021 A1 Leonard, was discovered by astronomer Gregory J. Leonard on January 3 at the Mount Lemmon Observatory. Comet Leonard is going to have a close brush with Earth and this comes after an astonishing 70,000 years.

Fortunately, the comet is predicted to pass near Earth without causing any harm to the planet. Unfortunately, even if it was heading straight towards Earth, there wouldn't have been much we could do.

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When can you expect Comet Leonard?

Currently, it is estimated that the comet will be passing by Earth this December, and many people would be lucky enough to even see this with naked eyes. Mostly, it can be seen in Latin American countries by naked eyes, if the weather conditions are optimal enough to allow people to watch it. It is expected to be visible between December 10 and December 16, while peak visibility is expected on December 13. In the northern hemisphere, people will be able to witness it before the southern hemisphere.

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The comet's unusual appearance to Earth is due to its elliptical orbit. Nobody alive today on Earth will ever see the comet again because, once it hits the inner solar system, the sun's gravity will push it back into deep space, where it will most likely stay for a long, long time - a few tens of thousands of years, give or take.

How is Comet Leonard different?

Comets are primarily made of frozen gases that are heated as they approach the sun and glow by sun's light. The solar wind blows the expanding material out into the comet's magnificent tail as the gases warm and expand. It resembles flowing hair, that's why they are sometimes called "hairy stars". Though, professional astronomers can observe the comets anywhere on every night, but bright comets are rare to observe through naked eyes without any telescope, which perhaps appear on an average of one or two years. Comet Leonard is on a closed orbit and has most likely been close to the sun at least once before, approximately 70,000 years ago.

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First Published Date: 03 Dec, 13:02 IST