Comet C/2021 A1 LEONARD brightens…

Although I still think it’s far, far too early to start making any serious predictions about what Comet C/2021 A1 LEONARD will do when it comes closer to us in December, it’s encouraging to see it is following a brightness curve which would see it becoming visible to the naked eye in early December, and possibly even achieving magnitude 2 or greater around the time of its closest approach on December 12th.

Comet LEONARD (for short) is already being hailed on social media as “the Great Christmas Comet of 2021” which is ridiculous because a) we have no idea how bright it will get, never mind if it will become a “great” comet, and b) it won’t actually be visible at Christmas – at least from the northern hemisphere – because it will have moved onto the southern sky.

It is encouraging tho that the comet is so far behaving itself – not dimming or brightening suddenly, just continuing to brighten as predicted, and it is now actually bright enough to be photographed with just a tripos-mounted DSLR camera and a “zoom lens”, tracking the stars. The image at the top of this post as taken by myself at around 4am on the morning of November 14th from Kendal, Cumbria, with a Canon 700D DSLR on a tripod, tracking the stars using an iOptron tracker. It’s a crop from a processed stack of 30 x 30 second exposures. The image below is the same.

How bright is it? I’ve seen magnitude estimates of around 9.5 which means it should be visible in small telescopes and maybe even powerful pairs of binoculars, if you are observing from a dark sky location.

So, Comet C/2021 A1 LEONARD is on track to become visible to the naked eye in just a couple of weeks – fingers crossed! If you want to know where it is, here is a finder chart for you. It is drawn for mid-UK latitudes for 03:00 BST.

2 thoughts on “Comet C/2021 A1 LEONARD brightens…

  • 23rd November 2021 at 9:54 am
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    The text does not actually say but the full name of the comet is ‘C/2021 A1 Leonard’ . You will need this to find it in programmes such as Cartes du Ciel. Don’t forget to update the Comet elements first in your planetarium programme, they change with time and new comets are added.

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  • 23rd November 2021 at 11:04 am
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    VERY good point, thanks for taking the time to point that out. I’ll amend it right now. 🙂 – Stuart Atkinson

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