July 3, 2022

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Comet Leonard visible from Earth 80,000 years later: How to see it from Mexico

This photo of the comet Leonard was compiled from 62 images taken with a medium-sized telescope.  They were taken in the dark skies of the eastern Sierra Mountains near Lake Jun in California, USA (Photo: Dan Bartlett / NASA)
This photo of the comet Leonard was compiled from 62 images taken with a medium-sized telescope. They were taken in the dark skies of the eastern Sierra Mountains near Lake Jun in California, USA (Photo: Dan Bartlett / NASA)

In 2020, NeoVice Impressed the world. For several weeks, the comet was spotted in the sky by Zakatokas, Cancun or Tamoulipas. Its shine and tail were visible to the naked eye and captivated all eyes. The postcards were magical, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because it takes 6,800 years to return, so no one wants to miss the show.

After NeoVice passed, we thought it would take decades to see a celestial show of that size. However, the universe surprised us again and 2021 will close with a unique cosmic event. In the first weeks of December it will cross the sky Comet Leonard, A huge ice giant that takes 80,000 years to orbit the sun.

They first discovered it on January 3, 2021. Astronomer Gregory J. Leonard was reviewing a series of images captured by a telescope at the Mount Lemon Laboratory at the University of Arizona in the United States when he discovered a strange blur that did not appear in the records. After a while, they learned that the unknown comet was approaching the Sun, and they listed it. C / 2021 A1 Leonard.

In January 2021, Leonard was discovered to have a faint stain Was beyond Mars. But your orbit will pass you by Near Earth and Venus in December, Before approaching the sun in early January 2022, NASA explained on its website.

The arrival of this celestial body has generated great anticipation in recent days as predictions indicate that from November 30, it will be possible to see with the naked eye without the need to use professional surveillance equipment. The US space agency believes this is possible, but warns that it is difficult to make accurate predictions.

“It simply came to our notice then When and how bright a comet appears, Because we do not know how much dust and gas it will emit. It varies from day to day, and it controls the amount of sunlight that is scattered and reflected towards us, “NASA said.

Leonard last crossed the sun 80,000 years ago. Since then, it has been hovering in space on a long lap, ending in January. 35,000 years ago, the comet moved back toward the star, but once it reached it, it left our solar system and never returned.

For this reason, astronauts, space agencies and experts have offered suggestions and recommendations for following this unique program. NASA is very optimistic and hopes that viewers around the world will be able to see this process with the naked eye. If this does not happen in the end, of course it will be easier to find it with a telescope or small telescope.

(Photo: Kurdosgro)
(Photo: Kurdosgro)

How to think of Leonard from Mexico?

C / 2021 A1 Leonard reaches its minimum distance from Earth next December 12. That night will also be very close to reaching its maximum brightness, so it will be the best time to look for it in the sky.

“This comet will pass a short distance from Earth On December 12, 2021, 08:54 am EST, “NASA said.

In Mexico, that day can be seen just before dawn. The suggestion is to think 05:00 to 05:30 in the morning And until sunrise, it will appear in the eastern part of the celestial body and at 07:54 – Republic time -, the star will reach its perigee, which is the point of the closest orbit to our planet.

As Joel Castro announced, from Astronomy Institute (UNAM), National Autonomous University of Mexico The best performances take place in the first half of December, especially at dawn. To notice it with the naked eye, it is necessary to look for places with dark skies, away from the light pollution of big cities, and clear horizons. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to understand.

As of Tuesday, November 30, Leonard could begin to appear in the sky near the Big Dipper. Its brightness will gradually increase and occur between maximum brightness December 13 and 14According to NASA, it is difficult to push back the right moment.

“Depending on dust and gas, the maximum brightness of the model is expected to be on December 13 or 14, 2021, about 1 or 2 days after crossing the closest point to Earth,” the space agency explained.

After that, it will slowly start to fade and it will be very difficult to find it in the sky. In the second half of the month, it is recommended to focus your view west and try it at night. It will be closer and closer to the horizon, and in the last days of the year it will disappear, visible only through binoculars or binoculars.

Then, on January 3, 2022, Leonard will reach his minimum distance perihelion from the Astro Rail. After this, it will leave the solar system and never return.

Where did Leonard come from?

Comets come from two parts of the solar system. The former are short-lived because they are less than 200 years from orbiting the star, and they form in the Khyber belt, which is 30 to 100 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun (astronomical units).

The latter are long because it takes more than two centuries to complete their orbit. They come from mystery Nub de Oort, Sphere of glaciers over 2000 astronomical units. Here Leonard was formed. Experts point out that gravitational disturbances between rocks, or the gravitational pull of giant planets, cause comets to be ejected towards outer parts of the solar system and approach our star.

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