Here’s how to see Comet Leonard, the brightest comet of 2021

Comet Leonard will be visible mid-December

Comet Leonard and the Whale Galaxy. Photo taken by astronomer Gregg Ruppel on Nov. 24. "On that date the comet was about 6 light-minutes from our fair planet," said Ruppel. (Gregg Ruppel, Gregg Ruppel)

SAN ANTONIO – The brightest comet of 2021 is set to light up the Texas night sky in December.

OK, it’s not actually going to light up the sky, but you’ll have a good chance of seeing Comet Leonard if the conditions are right.

According to EarthSky.org, Comet Leonard will make its closest pass by Earth on Dec. 12.

However, Ed Krupp, the director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, told National Public Radio the best viewing time will likely be in the evening on Dec. 17.

“You might spot it with the unaided eye, but more likely, you’re going to need binoculars [or] a telescope,” Krupp said.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Comet Leonard will be visible before sunrise in the eastern sky, passing between the handle of the Big Dipper and Arcturus.

Comet Leonard was discovered in January 2021 by astronomer Greg Leonard who is a senior research specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona.

NASA shared one astronomer’s photo of Comet Leonard, which was taken Nov. 24, and shows the space rock with a greenish tail.

The best thing for viewing celestial events is a dark sky. The farther away you are from the light pollution of city lights, the better your chances are of seeing Comet Leonard.

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.