Comet Leonard has been dazzling the night sky in a pre-Christmas show

The image of Comet Leonard on the left was taken by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar Orbiter. The image on the right was taken by  NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft.

(CNN)Comet Leonard, which last passed by Earth 80,000 years ago, has been dazzling the night sky before Christmas, and there's only a few days left to see the celestial object before it disappears forever.

The imager onboard the Solar Orbiter, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency, captured Leonard streaking across the sky with the Milky Way in the background in a stunning animated sequence of images from Friday to Sunday. Venus and Mercury are also visible in the top right of the animation, with Venus appearing brighter and moving from left to right.
Stargazers on Earth have also been chasing the comet, a mass of space dust, rock and ice about a half-mile (1 kilometer) wide.
    Comet Leonard made it closest approach to Earth on December 12, coming within 21 million miles (34 million kilometers) of our planet. The comet will be visible in the skies of both the Northern and Southern hemispheres until the end of this month.
      It travels closest to the sun on January 3, taking it within 56 million miles (90 million kilometers) of our star, slightly more than half Earth's distance. If it doesn't disintegrate, its trajectory will fling it into interstellar space, never to return, said NASA.
      NASA also captured an image of the comet with its Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory-A spacecraft.

      Ultrafast comet appears from Earth to crawl

        The comet was discovered in January by astronomer Greg Leonard, a senior research specialist at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He began tracking the fuzzy bit of light on January 3.
        "The fact that the tail showed up in those images was remarkable, considering that the comet was about 465 million miles out (from Earth) at that point, about the same distance as Jupiter (from Earth)," he said this month.
        It's also an ultrafast comet, blazing through the inner solar system at 158,084 miles per hour (71 kilometers per second), but it will still appear like a slow-moving object due to its distance from Earth, according to EarthSky.
        Use Venus, currently a brightly visible presence in the southwestern sky around sunset, as a way to help you find the comet.
        Beginning December 13, "this comet will appear very low above the horizon just after sunset," said Leonard. "It will skim across the west-southwestern horizon between now up until around Christmastime. The fact that it's so close to the horizon makes this comet a bit challenging to observe."