The “Devil Comet” to Make Appearance During Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

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A remarkable celestial event is on the horizon as a massive comet, affectionately dubbed the “devil comet,” will make its first appearance in 71 years during the upcoming total solar eclipse next month.

Officially known as 12P/Pons-Brooks, this cryovolcanic comet is distinctive for its formation of two horn-like structures from ice and gas, accompanied by periodic explosive events.

According to NASA, comets are cosmic bodies comprising dust, frozen gases, ice, and rocks formed after the solar system’s inception. The “devil comet” is nearing its next perihelion, the closest point to the sun in its orbit, where it will shine brightest, anticipated on April 21. This celestial spectacle coincides with the total solar eclipse on April 8, casting a shadow across North America from Texas to Maine as the moon eclipses the sun.

NASA suggests that the eclipse’s total darkness may provide a unique opportunity for sky enthusiasts to observe stars, planets, and possibly the 12P/Pons-Brooks comet as it traverses the solar system. The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on June 2, offering another viewing chance, albeit with potentially reduced visibility compared to during the eclipse due to its distance from the sun.

Similar to Halley’s comet, which orbits the sun every 76 years, 12P/Pons-Brooks is categorized as a short-period comet with a 71-year orbital cycle, last seen in 1954.

Researchers estimate the “devil comet” to have a minimum diameter of 17 kilometers (approximately 10.5 miles). It experienced a significant brightening in July 2023, becoming 100 times more luminous, and has displayed multiple explosive bursts since, showcasing its dynamic nature.

 

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