Total Solar Eclipse 2024: How to see the Devil Comet with horns on April 8? - Hindustan Times
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024: How to see the Devil Comet with horns on April 8?

ByArya Vaishnavi
Apr 05, 2024 08:08 PM IST

During the brief period of totality, sky gazers can observe the bright green comet using a pair of binoculars

There’s not just one but two reasons to gaze at the sky on April 8. In addition to the rare total solar eclipse, another celestial event will grace the night skies next week. Astronomers say that bright green space rock nicknamed the “Devil Comet” could potentially be visible to the naked eye. Officially known as the 12P/Pons-Brooks, the periodic comet, which has an orbital period of 71 years, will be visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere.

Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

Why is it called the Devil Comet?

The celestial body Pons-Brooks is popularly known as the Devil Comet due to its periodic eruptions of ice and gas. These volcanic-like eruptions give the comet the appearance of having devil horns. While it was first observed by Chinese astronomers in the 1300s, it gained official recognition and earned the name Pons-Brooks after it was observed by French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons in the 19th Century and by British American astronomer William Robert Brooks in 1883.

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How to watch the Devil Comet on April 8?

The 18.6-mile-wide Devil Comet will make its closest approach to the sun on April 21. This means that starting next week, it could potentially be visible to the naked eye, given the right conditions. While NASA says that the best date to view the comet is April 10, when it will be “just beneath the moon,” Devil Comet will be at its brightest on April 8, when it is closest to Jupiter.

According to Astronomy.com, on April 8, when the eclipse reaches the phase of totality, several stars, six planets, and a special visitor, Pons-Brooks, will be visible as the sky turns pitch-black during the total solar eclipse. The outlet adds that Jupiter will serve as the most convenient guide to locate the Devil Comet. Astronomer Dave Weixelman told the outlet that “the comet will lie just 6° west of Jupiter and about 24.5° northeast of the Sun.”

During the brief period of totality, sky gazers can observe the bright green comet using a pair of binoculars. Steve Kawaler, a professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University, says that those in the Northern Hemisphere should try to view the comet during evening twilight as it approaches the sun, per USA Today.

However, Weixelman added that “depending on the actual brightness of the comet during the eclipse, the comet may or may not be visible in binoculars.” This is because of the unpredictable nature of comets. However, NASA says that the best time to view the Devil Comet is before April 21, after which it will start becoming fainter and may not be visible via either binoculars or a telescope.

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