Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2022 January 3

Comet Leonard’s Long Tail

Image Credit & Copyright: Jan Hattenbach

Explanation: You couldn’t see Comet Leonard’s extremely long tail with a telescope — it was just too long. You also couldn’t see it with binoculars — still too long. Or with your eyes — it was too dim. Or from a city — the sky was too bright. But from a dark location with a low horizon — your camera could. And still might — if the comet survives today’s closest encounter with the Sun, which occurs between the orbits of Mercury and Venus. The featured picture was created from two deep and wide-angle camera images taken from La Palma in the Canary Islands of Spain late last month. Afterwards, if it survives, what is left of Comet Leonard‘s nucleus will head out of our Solar System, never to return.