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Strange Universe 1/9/22

Comet Leonard: Worth a Try?

The Web headlines made it sound amazing when they said, “Don’t Miss this winter’s Best Comet.”

But there's a problem: Few saw any trace of comet Leonard. It's far fainter than last year's Comet Neowise, and that was a challenge for most. To be sure, there was indeed some good news. The comet’s location was easy to find, since even last week it was directly left of super-dazzling Venus. Also, at magnitude 5, it was a bit brighter than forecast, so that it technically matched the faintest star of the Little Dipper, which is visible to the naked eye.

But it was always super low, meaning its dim light had to bulldoze its way through thick horizon air, and not be blocked by any distant

It’s now heading even further south and dimming, so it’s time to move on. But a great comet comes along every 15 years on average, so there’s always next time.

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