The Devil Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks and the Total Solar Eclipse - what you should know - Hindustan Times

The Devil Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks and the Total Solar Eclipse - what you should know

Apr 06, 2024 05:11 PM IST

The Devil Comet is heading toward the Sun and as the total solar eclipse is coming soon too, know what you can do vis a vis both.

The Devil Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is an extremely bright comet that keeps coming around every 71 years. Given a chance, you should watch it, right? What if we say that you can focus on the total solar eclipse that is happening on April 8 and instead of trying to divert your attention the comet, just keep your focus on what our Moon is doing in front of the Sun? Well, the opportunity will very much be there and the call is entirely yours.

The Devil Comet or the total solar eclipse? Two of the most beautiful spectacles will be on view. (REUTERS)
The Devil Comet or the total solar eclipse? Two of the most beautiful spectacles will be on view. (REUTERS)

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Notably, the Devil Comet, actual name Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, got its nickname from some weird projections that suddenly sprung up from its body. The looked exactly like the Devil’s horns and hence, the nickname. This brought mass attention on the comet, which generally was the focus of only astronomers.

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Right now, with the total solar eclipse approaching, it is flying toward the Sun. And it can be viewed through a telescope or even binoculars out towards the Northern Hemisphere. The time to watch it best is after the Sun drops below the horizon.

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So, will you be able to watch it during the solar eclipse? NASA says it is very much possible if the Comet stays at magnitude 5 brightness. What dos that mean? To put things in perspective, the brightest stars are a magnitude 1, the faintest are a magnitude 6. However, whether the comet will be at magnitude 5 is unknown.

Also, do note that, even if it was at magnitude 5, during the solar eclipse totality, it would be visible in binoculars for a few minutes.

Ideally, therefore, the focus of sky gazers should be the total solar eclipse and the Devil Comet should be given pass.

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Do note that the comet will come back after 71 years while the next total solar eclipse is slated to pass over United States will be on August 23, 2044.

The total solar eclipse will cross Mexico, the United States, and Canada on April 8, 2024.

What is an eclipse?

In simple terms, during an eclipse, the appearance of both the Sun and the Moon changes totally for a few minutes. The result is simply amazing as the small Moon comes directly in front of the gigantic Sun and virtually turns day into night on Earth.

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