Comet Leonard is at its closest to Earth right now. Here’s how to spot it.

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Comet Leonard, the brightest comet of the year, made its closest approach to Earth today (Dec. 12) and should be visible through binoculars and telescopes, weather permitting.

Officially known as Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard), Comet Leonard was discovered in January by astronomer Gregory J. Leonard of the Mount Lemmon Infrared Observatory in Arizona. On Sunday, it passed Earth at a range of 21 million miles (34 million km), but is still not visible to the unaided eye, according to EarthSky.org

Comet Leonard is a once-in-a-lifetime comet for stargazers as its orbit takes about 80,000 years to round the sun. If you’re looking for a telescope of binoculars to see planets in the sky, check out our guide for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals available now. Our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography can also help you pick the best imaging gear to spot the next comet.

Want to see Comet Leonard? Here are telescope and binoculars recommendations

This NASA sky map shows the location of Comet Leonard in the night sky from Dec. 14 to Dec. 25 in 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On Sunday (tonight), Comet Leonard can be found about 30 minutes after sunset in just above the western horizon, according to a NASA guide. You’ll be able to look for it again early Monday (Dec. 13), when the comet will rise above the eastern horizon at 6:37 a.m. EST, just 12 minutes after the dawn twilight breaks. 

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