Comets observable with small telescopes are approaching us
Two comets, observable from Slovakia even with small telescopes, will decorate the night sky at the end of the year. After six years, the short-period comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko returns to the Earth. Comet Leonard, which has an orbital period of about 70,000 years, was discovered earlier this year, and its brightness will be on the verge of visibility with the naked eye.
The short-period comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko belongs to Jupiter's family of comets. It has an irregular shape and consists of two lobes.
“The comet was discovered in 1969 by Ukrainian astronomers Klym I. Churyumov and Svetlana I. Gerasimenkova. Its orbital period is 6.44 years. It will cross the perihelion on November 2 and will be visible from Slovakia practically all night until the end of the year, except in the evening twilight,” explains Ján Svoreň from the Astronomical Institute SAS, adding that between 2014 and 2016, this space object was intensively explored by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft.
The long-period comet C/2021 A1 Leonard was discovered by the American astronomer Greg J. Leonard. We will be able to observe it from Slovakia until December 10, 2021.
“In November, it will be visible from Slovakia in the second half of the night, at the beginning of December in the morning before sunrise," explains the astronomer. “On December 12, it will approach the Earth at a distance of 34.9 million km. If our expectations are met, it will be the brightest comet of 2021,” emphasises Ján Svoreň.
After crossing the perihelion on January 3, 2022, Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard will enter the hyperbolic orbit and leave the solar system.
Edited by Katarína Gáliková
Foto: AI SAS