Drawing C/2021 A1 (Leonard) from Killadoon Co Mayo December 5th between 18:15 UT and 18:36 UT / 200mm / 1,200 mm FL/32 mm eyepiece/37X /Bootes. In between HIP 69183 and HIP 69147 just over Killadoon Hill.
Sketched using white gel pen and grey and green pastel. South is up. Two satellites shot through my field of view while I was drawing. However, I declined to include them because I was seeking more detail in the comet at the time. I really love watching comets because they are unpredictable. They can change shape, become brighter, lose their tails, have colour and are temporary guests in our night sky.
This observation was unexpected; a lucky break! I was in the bathroom a little after 6 am. I looked through the Velux and saw stars. Recently I viewed nothing but clouds and rain through that window. The seeing looked soft, not precisely pin-sharp, but I just had to go outside to look correctly. I saw the comet in seconds in my 15X70’s binoculars. Then I heaved the telescope out and aligned my Telrad on a farmers barn light about 2km away.
The coma of C/2021 A1 (Leonard) was large, round and distinctly green to my eye. A bright central condensation was visible, but I could not make out the tail. Maybe it was because the eastern sky was a few tones less dark compared to the western sky at that hour. The green colour observed in the first few minutes dissipated toward the end of the session, likely for the same reason. One hour earlier might have made a heap of difference.
The green colour is visible in my drawing, but my camera didn’t pick it up. I used a pale green pastel over a pale grey pastel with a cotton bud. On December 6th, the comet was due to be almost parallel to Arcturus. That would have been a desirable drawing; however, the forecast was for rain. Nevertheless, I got up at 4am and looked out. Stars were on all sides of the house. I rushed downstairs only to be met by gathering clouds. By 04:45, the sky was clear above and clear to the south. Arcturus was in and out of a long black cloud shaped like a train. My binoculars and telescope were at the ready. Typically most of the cloud moved on except for the train shaped cloud. It just glided along above the hill, blocking my view of the comet. That was it foiled again; better luck next time. This sketch may be my only observation of C/2021 A1 (Leonard). Let us see how it goes.
80,000 years orbital period
According to many articles this icy visitor it is a long period comet on an 80,000 year trip. The comet has spent 40,000 years getting to its present position where we can observe it. To my eye it was not naked eye yet but has the potential to become that special comet. A unique object whizzing through on its way past the sun minding its secrets and bringing some visual joy to all who observe it. Look for it soon before its gone !!
Software and sites to help you find it for yourself
Clear video on how to add C/2021 A1 (Leonard) to Stellarium