Rare Comet Expected to Pass Earth on Christmas Day

                (Image: Christian Headlines)

A new comet is said to have appeared in the Earth's atmosphere, and before it leaves, people will have the opportunity to view it one more time, Christian Headlines reported.

On January 3, 2021, American astronomer Gregory J. Leonard discovered 20C/2021 A1, better known as Comet Leonard, at the Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona.

Leonard observed a fuzzy patch of light moving across space on the point of discovery. The light moved across a series of four images taken with the 1.5-meter telescope at the observatory.

While speaking on the discovery, Leonard said, "The fact that the tail showed up in those images was remarkable, considering that the comet was about 465 million miles out at that point, about the same distance as Jupiter.

"There is a small chance Venus will pass close enough to the comet's path where it may pick up some dust grains in its atmosphere, producing a meteor shower on our neighboring planet."

On December 25, Comet Leonard will also be visible in the Southern Hemisphere in the Constellation Microscopium. This will not be the first time Comet Leonard will be passing through our solar system. The comet is believed to have crossed Earth's path about 80,000 years ago, only to return 40,000 years later, according to the University of Arizona. Leonard believes this time around will be the comet's last visit to our solar system.

"This is the last time we are going to see the comet. It's speeding along at escape velocity, 44 miles per second. After its slingshot around the sun, it will be ejected from our solar system, and it may stumble into another star system millions of years from now."

Comet Leonard has a shape that is about twice the size of a Full Moon. It is believed to have come from the Oort Cloud, a vast area surrounding the solar system where most long-period comets come from.

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