Comet Section        


January 3, 2022 – ALPO Comet News for January 2022


After a year of “will it, won’t it”, C/2021 A1 (Leonard) developed into the best comet of 2021. While a difficult object to observe when at its brightest due to a small solar elongation, several outbursts resulted in a peak brightness between magnitude 2.5 and 3.0. As the year begins, the comet has faded to around magnitude 5.0. The comet remains very dynamic with imagers following nightly changes in its coma and tail. Speaking of tails, some images are showing a tail nearly 40 deg in length! Northern observers will only have a few more days to observe Leonard while southern hemisphere observers should be able to follow Leonard throughout the month.

Leonard may be the brightest comet out there, but it isn’t the only one in the range of modest backyard equipment. 19P/Borrelly is around 8-9th magnitude in the evening sky. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) are also at a similar brightness near opposition. Slightly fainter comets (magnitude 10-11) include 6P/d’Arrest, 104P/Kowal, and C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS).

Since December 1, the ALPO Comets Section has received 118 magnitude estimates and 120 images and sketches of comets C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), 104P/Kowal, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 19P/Borrelly, 6P/d’Arrest, and 4P/Faye. Observations were contributed by Michael Amato, Salvador Aguirre, Dan Bartlett, Michel Deconinck, Lukas Demetz, Walter Elias, J. J. Gonzalez, Christian Harder, Jan Hattenbach, Carl Hergenrother, Eliot Herman, Michael Jäger, Kardasis Manos, Luis Alberto Mansilla, Frank McCague, Martin Mobberley, Michael Olason , Uwe Pilz, Olivier Planchon, Efrain Morales Rivera, Michael Rosolina, Gregg Ruppel, Chris Schur, Leandro Sid, Willian Souza, Tenho Tuomi, Jim Twellman, Chris Wyatt, and Skygems Observatory.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

- Carl Hergenrother

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