By Stargazer Ron
Comet Leonard is 2021’s best comet and is now moving toward its closest point to the sun, due to arrive there on January 3, 2022, when it is likely to be at its brightest. But don't expect another bright Comet Neowise of March 2021, which could be seen with unaided eyes. Leonard is quite dim and elusive, especially given the unseasonal overcast skies we have had over Santa Barbara lately. In early December it could be found in the early morning eastern skies near Arcturus (follow the curve of the handle of the Big Dipper and "arc to Arcturus''). Then after December 14-16 it should become visible in the southwest with binoculars just after sunset, very low in the horizon (follow a line from Jupiter and Venus down toward the setting sun). It is an ultrafast comet travelling at 158,000 miles per hour relative to Earth. For that reason I had to limit my exposure using a 500mm lens to 4 minutes, even though I was using a star tracker. Longer exposures resulted in the comet looking like a line rather than a rounded point that we see here with its tail as it moved past stars.