Right Now, Mainers Can Catch A Glimpse Of A Super Rare Comet
We're getting a once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes treat.
When I was about 12 years old, Halley's Comet was all the rage. It was making its 70-year trip back around our parts. After all, it's pretty much the Old Faithful of the heavens. I always thought it was cool that there was a decent chance that I'd be alive when it came back around again. That should be somewhere around 2056.
But right now, Mainers can get a peek at a comet that hasn't been seen in our skies in more than 70,000 years. And once it flies by this month, it will never, ever return to our solar system. Comet Leonard is out there right now, passing through our night skies, and will soon disappear forever. That's kinda nuts...
That's cool and all, but when and where can I get a peek, right?
Right now, and through the middle of the month, it will be visible in the wee hours of the morning before dawn near the Messier cluster of stars, according to USA Today, and it will be in a downward position, with possible views of the tail, under the right conditions. You should be able to see it with simple binoculars or a telescope.
This all seems pretty crazy and dramatic for something you can see with binoculars. Maybe I'll get some opera glasses instead.
Come mid-month, the comet will be viewable in the regular night sky, and will be bright enough that it won't require anything to see it. Just your hairy eyeballs. It'll be positioned right near Venus, and will appear between Venus and the horizon. It'll be the closest that Comet Leonard gets to us, which is why it'll be so bright.
This is a pretty special event when you think about how rare it is. Old Lenny last swung through 70,000 years ago. We were still smearing wet ashes on cave walls. And once it passes by this time, it's never coming back. This all seems pretty crazy and dramatic for something you can see with binoculars. Maybe I'll get some opera glasses instead.
If you want some nerdy, but awesome, guidance on finding Leonard, here's a cool YouTube video that should help.