BMH Online

2. Comet Leonard

We all know of 'the star in the east' which heralded the birth of Jesus (as the story goes), but this year the month of December is set to be blessed with another 'star'.

I watched the following video to learn that Comet Leonard will appear for those in the northern hemisphere shortly after sunset in the west.

At first it is expected that binoculars or small telescope will be required, but at the magnitude goes from 8 to 2 at it's peak (5.5 being required for naked-eye visibility, and the lower the better) this comet should be brighter than that of Neowise from July last year.


Above: An artist's impression of the 1858 comet Donati, seen next to Arcturus.

The peak of Leonard will be on December 12th. One should look towards the west and Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes shortly after sunset.

According to Stellarium this provides me with a short window of opportunity, but Arcturus rises in the east around 1:30am, so this not only provides a greater opportunity with darker skies, but also makes it more fitting as a 'Christmas Star'. I'm not sure why the video above only suggests evening viewing.

Astrologically, for anyone who is a Sagittarian (or Ophiuchan) this should surely be of interest. This comet is on an 80,000 year orbit - you have to take your chance now to see it before it's gone!

In 1858 Arcturus was visited by Comet Donati. It was the first comet to be photographed. It has an orbital period of ~1.739 years.

There are more details presented in this video: