A dazzling green comet is set to light up the night sky this month as it passes Earth for the first time in 70,000 years.

The newly discovered Comet Leonard will likely become the brightest comet of the year following its long journey into the inner Solar System. It’s expected to be at its brightest and closest to Earth on December 12th (34.9 million km).

Catalogued as C/2021, Comet Leonard was discovered on January 3 by Senior research specialist Greg Leonard at the Mt. Lemmon Observatory. What was initially a faint, distant speck has soon inched closer to the Sun and Earth.

“I saw an object that was definitely real. It was tracking across four images against the background stars which appear stationary,” Leonard told Inverse .

The comet has a green tail due to its icy rock interior heating up the closer it gets to the sun. Once teal, it means the comet is warm and contains plenty of diatomic carbon, and the potential for it to break up is at its highest.

While the comet is visible right now across the world – unless you’re in Antarctica, according to astronomer Ed Krupp, you will require binoculars or a telescope to see it.

“The comet will just be about half the width of a clenched fist to the left” of Arcturus, Krupp said. “You might spot it with the unaided eye, but more likely, you’re going to need binoculars [or] a telescope.”

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On Monday (December 6), it will appear to the left of the star Arcturus, a “bright orange star not to be missed.”

Brits, however, are best to start gazing in the early hours of 04:00 GMT on December 10. People in North America and the Southern Hemisphere should get their best view on December 14.

On December 17, it should pass close to planet Venus.

Due to the comet’s unpredictable behaviour, it could stay relatively dim, or it may flare up in the sky.

Some lucky people stargazers have already witnessed the bright green iceball and have turned to its official account to showcase their stunning skylines.

Comet Leonard reaches closest to the sun on January 3 before heading back out to the outer wastes of the Solar System.

It will be around 80,000 years until anyone on Earth sees it again.

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