A newly discovered comet will zip past Earth this week and be the brightest comet of the year, experts said.
Comet Leonard, known to scientists as Comet C/2021 A1, was discovered in January near Tucson, Arizona, NASA Ambassador Tony Rice said in WRAL. Experts hoped the comet would be visible in December.
The comet will be visible this week, with the mornings of Wednesday, Dec. 8 and Thursday, Dec. 9 being the “sweet spot,” Rice said in an email to news outlets.
“Best viewing is between 2 and 1 hours before sunrise, under dark skies with a clear eastern horizon,” Rice said in an email. “It is expected to brighten as it draws closer to the Sun, but this also brings it closer to the horizon where you must look through more atmosphere.”
The comet is expected to be the best and brightest of the year, according to EarthSky. Skywatchers could see the tail of Comet Leonard as it gets closer to Earth, the news outlet reported.
Observations have shown a dense and short dust tail, which could make the comet easier to spot, Rice told WRAL.
The comet might appear dim to the naked eye. It’s a good idea to have binoculars or a small telescope nearby for the best views, according to Space.com.
“Most comets remain too faint for amateur telescopes to catch, but for a short while in December, Comet Leonard should rise out of the ordinary,” Space.com reported.