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News COMET LEONARD IN THE SUNSET SKY

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ram, Dec 16, 2021.

  1. Ram

    Ram

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    More sky candy for the cold weather canyon folks.

    COMET LEONARD IN THE SUNSET SKY: Around the world, astronomers are reporting a comet in the sunset sky. It's Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1), which is falling toward the sun. Oscar Martín Mesonero sends this picture from Salamanca, Spain:

    [​IMG]

    "Yesterday afternoon, Dec. 15, I photographed the comet when it was just over a degree above the horizon," says Mesonero. "I used an ED80 telescope and a Sony A7 camera."

    How can a comet be visible at twilight? It's that bright. Comet Leonard has brightened more than 5-fold since it passed by Earth last week. Experienced observers say it is now shining like a 2nd or 3rd magnitude star.

    "I estimate magnitude 3.4," says Gary Dowdle, who photographed the comet on Dec. 14th from Fort Davis, Texas:

    [​IMG]
    Photo settings: Sony A7s3, 200mm f/4 lens, iso 400, 2s exposure

    "The sun was only 13.5 degrees below the horizon when I took the picture," he adds. "Note the famous Marfa aerial blimp in the lower left of the frame."

    To find Comet Leonard, let Venus be your guide. On Dec. 17-18, the comet will pass just 4 million km from the second planet--the closest Venus-comet flyby in recorded history. Sunset photographers can find the two side by side in the constellaton Sagittarius. Sky maps: Dec. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
    Kuenn and ratagonia like this.
  2. Ram

    Ram

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    An unexpected encore performance

    COMET LEONARD OUTBURST:
    Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) is bright again. On Dec. 20th, astronomers witnessed an outburst from the comet's core. In a matter of hours, it multiplied in brightness almost 10-fold. "Tonight it was clearly visible as a 'star' to the left of Venus," reports Jan Hattenbach, who sends this picture from La Palma in the Canary Islands:

    [​IMG]

    "I estimate magnitude 3 or brighter," he says.

    The outburst might signal a fragmentation event in the comet's core. This would come as no surprise. The comet is heading for its closest approach to the sun (0.61 AU) on Jan. 3rd. Increasing heat may be liberating new jets of gas and dust from the comet's core--or worse, blowing away huge chunks of ice and rock.

    Astronomers in the southern hemisphere have the best view. "The comet is now nicely placed for us in Australia," says Ray Pickard at the Bathurst Observatory in New South Wales. Here is what he saw through the observatory's telescope:

    [​IMG]

    "The comet seems to be having an outburst with a noticeable jet of material [emerging from the core]," he says.

    Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor Comet Leonard while the outburst continues. If it's a big breakup, the comet might disintegrate and fizzle. Otherwise, it could brighten even more as the comet approaches the sun. To find Leonard in the sunset sky, go to Venus and turn left--or point your optics here.

    Realtime Comet Leonard Photo Gallery
    Free:
    Spaceweather.com Newsletter
    sam.londres likes this.
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