Comet Leonard is expected to cause a meteor shower on Venus during its relatively close approach to the planet.
Comet Leonard, officially known as C/2021 A1, was discovered in January this year by astronomer Gregory J. Leonard of the Mount Lemmon Infrared Observatory in Arizona, USA.
Comet Leonard’s close pass of Venus over the weekend made it possible for astronomy lovers on Earth to see clearly in the night sky with the naked eye.
On Venus, however, the story is different. The orbits of the planet and the comet are 50,000km apart, equivalent to a geosynchronous satellite orbit above Earth.
Comet Leonard is a once-in-a-lifetime comet for astronomy lovers because its orbit takes about 80,000 years to orbit the Sun.
Given the thick clouds on Venus, viewing the meteor shower at this planet requires the observer to be 55-60km above the surface, where the temperature and pressure is somewhat similar to that of Earth, Paul Byrne , planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, USA, who focuses on studying Venus shared with Space.com.
Qicheng Zhang, a planetary science graduate student at Caltech and lead author of a new paper exploring the scenario of a meteor shower on Venus, says the best-case scenario is for a meteor shower to occur during a transit of Venus. comet trails. However, this scenario requires the comet to be very active – which is quite rare but not impossible.
“If we detect an active meteor shower on Venus from this event, we know that the comet is quite active at a great distance from the Sun,” said Zhang.
Venus has only one active orbiter: the Japanese Akatsuki spacecraft. But Earth, Venus and the Sun could be oriented in a way that would allow observers from Earth to see faint flashes from the debris of comet Leonard, Zhang said.