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12/09/2021 – Ephemeris – Comet Leonard and the Oort Cloud

December 9, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, December 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 11:14 this evening.

Comet Leonard will only be available to be spotted for the next two mornings. After that, it will be too close to the direction of the Sun to be spotted. It came in from hundreds of times the Earth’s distance from the Sun from a spherical area around the solar system call the Oort cloud. This area, proposed as a source of comets, was named after Dutch astronomer, Jan Oort, who hypothesized its existence. Near as we can tell, Comet Leonard had been falling toward the Sun for 40,000 years. Tomorrow morning the comet will be nearly 30 degrees below and a bit left of the bright star Arcturus from 6:00 to 7 am tomorrow morning. 30 degrees is three times the width of one’s fist held at arm’s length.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Comet Leonard 6 am 12-10-21

Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) finder chart for 6:00 am, December 10, 2021. The comet’s tail may not be visible visually. The comet’s head, what astronomers call a coma, may appear as a large fuzzy spot. At that time it will be 23.1 million miles away, and will come within 21.7 million miles at its closest to us on the 12th. Created using Stellarium.

Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) in the morning

Comet Leonard’s positions at 7:15 am on the dates indicated. The labels are Month-Day Total Magnitude. The star’s position relative to the horizon and the position of Mars are for December 10th. The star field will be shifting to the upper right each morning at 7:15 from the December 10th date at 7:15. Comets always appear dimmer than their magnitude suggests because they are extended objects, not points like stars. Also, comet magnitudes can be unpredictable. The tails shown here simply show the direction of the tail, which will be very short, if visible at all visually. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).