If current predictions hold, the mornings around Thursday, December 9 will offer fine opportunities to see Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) while it is higher and shining in a dark, moonless sky. Although the comet won’t reach peak brightness for several more days, its location one-third of the way up the eastern sky, near the circle of stars that form the head of Serpens Caput (the Snake’s Head), should provide good views of it in binoculars (green circle) – and possibly with your unaided eyes.
On December 9, the comet will rise at about 3:30 a.m. local time – but make your viewing attempt before 5:30 a.m., when the dawn sky will begin to brighten. Comets are notoriously unpredictable – but skywatchers are looking forward to a great show from this one.
The comet formed in the outer reaches of the solar system and has been slowly heading towards the Sun for approximately 35,000 years.
Comet Leonard is expected to pass by and then exit the solar system forever. It is travelling at 70 km/second, which is fast enough to escape the Sun’s gravity.
Sources: Chris Vaughan (@Astrogeoguy) of Starry Night Education (@StarryNightEdu), the leader in space science curriculum solutions and CBC News – https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/comet-leonard-1.6276679