Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) or simply Comet Leonard was discovered on January 3, 2021 by Gregory J. Leonard of the Mount Lemon Observatory.
After a gradual approach to the Sun and the formation of a noticeable tail, it has already been observed and photographed from the northern hemisphere. Now it’s our turn and Leonard has been visible to residents of the southern hemisphere for a few days.
Here in Brazil, we already have several reports of observations and even photographic records of the comet since the 15th of the month, such as the beautiful capture from above on December 16, 2021 that was given to us by Luciano Miguel Deniz, a banker from Canitar, SP, and astrophotography enthusiasts.
But it is good to point out that the comet is visually small, and since it is still close to the Sun, in the early evening, very low, close to the horizon, it is difficult to see with the naked eye.
The proximity to the horizon always makes it difficult to observe any star, especially a comet, which always has a smoky appearance. Binoculars will help a lot. Very dark place away from city lights as well. The pictures of Leonard that this article shows are all long exposure, that is, with the camera mounted on a tripod and the light being taken for several seconds. A telephoto lens has also been used, which closes the angle of view, creating a “zoom in” feeling. Do not expect to see the comet with the naked eye, as in the pictures in this article.
In the next few days we will have an excellent reference in the sky for finding Comet Leonard: Venus. Venus appears in the west, in the late afternoon, and appears as a very bright spot slightly to the right and higher than where the sun sets. There is nothing wrong!
If you wait for sunset, you will see a very bright Venus, even with a clear sky. Certainly. Leonard will always be there, to the left of Venus, and always slightly above it. Saturn and Jupiter, stellar points and less bright than Venus, for those who are more intimate with the sky, can also be good visual cues.
Check out the simulations below, all made with the program stellariumPlanetarium, desktopAnd Free e open sourceThe apparent locations of Comet Leonard in the sky. This will help you a lot in “chasing comets”. Note that since the program does not display a realistic image of the comet, I marked the apparent position of the star with an orange marble. But you should look in the sky for a smoky body with a slight tail upwards, as in the photos of Luciano Miguel Dínez illustrating this article.
December 18 2021
December 19 2021
December 20 2021
December 21, 2021
December 22 2021
The above simulations were performed for my city, São João da Boa Vista, SP, for a period of 19:45 on the respective dates. But it makes a good reference for any location in Brazil, as the locations of the stars in the sky can vary in a matter of a few minutes for more or less. The ideal option is to perform a simulation of latitude and longitude on your own to achieve maximum accuracy.
I conclude this article with another great shot of Comet Leonard by Luciano Miguel Deniz who has a group of friends in his city interested in observing and recording the sky and its mysteries. Here’s a tip: astrological observations in friend groups are always interesting because everyone helps each other, exchanges information and equipment, and everyone wins!
Thank you very much Luciano for the pictures! And congratulations on your work in astrophotography!
Good heavens to all of us in the days to come so we can see and photograph Leonard who will gradually appear higher in the sky! This greatly improves monitoring conditions. But soon the comet will orbit the Sun, and then it will be farther from us, causing its tail to shrink, in addition to shrinking its apparent size as well. Anyway, we have more or less until the end of December to try the observations in anticipation that Leonard is still developing and could grow. here we are? Then tell us to stop in the comments if you were successful. If I can get the pictures, I’ll post them here. Now, here, rain and cloudy skies…
A hug from the professor. Dulcio. Physics and astronomy in the vein!
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