Explosive ‘Devil’s Comet’ Returns for First Time in 71 Years During April 8 Eclipse, NASA Says

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By journalsofus.com

TO rare and massive comet with a diabolical nickname will pass by Earth for the first time in 71 years and could be visible during the long-awaited April 8. Total solar eclipse, according to nasa.

Officially called comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, the cryovolcanic comet is known as the “devil’s comet” due to its formation of two “horns” composed of ice and gas and periodic explosions.

Comets are made up of dust, frozen gases, ice and rocks united after the formation of the solar system, says NASA.

Comet Diablo is heading for its next perihelion pass, when it will reach its closest point to the Sun and shine brightest, on April 21, according to NASA. The agency says this astronomical event coincides with the April 8 total solar eclipse in North America, which will shadow parts of the United States from Texas to Maine as the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth.

In the abrupt absence of sunlight during totality, NASA said Skywatchers will have a view of the vast sky, dark enough to observe stars, planets and perhaps 12P/Pons-Brooks as it travels through the solar system.

“The perihelion of Comet 12P on April 21 will occur just two weeks after the total solar eclipse on April 8, placing the comet in the sky of planet Earth alongside a totally eclipsed sun,” the agency said.

Continuing its journey through the solar system, 12P/Pons-Brooks will make its closest approach to Earth on June 2, offering another opportunity to see Comet Diablo, however its distance from the sun will make it less visible than during the eclipse. experts previously told ABC News.

compared to Halley comet, which has an orbit of 76 years around the Sun, 12P/Pons-Brooks is a short period comet, meaning it has an orbital period of between 20 and 200 years. Comet Diablo has an orbital period of 71 years and was last seen in 1954.

Scientists have estimated that Comet Diablo has a diameter of at least 17 kilometers, or 10.5 miles, according to the American Astronomical Society.

The comet’s periodic explosions or “bursts” make it brighter, easier to detect with telescopes and, in some cases, “something people can see from their backyard,” said Dr. Theodore Kareta, a postdoctoral researcher at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. previously told ABC News.

12P/Pons-Brooks experienced a large explosion in July 2023, when it suddenly became 100 times brighter, and continued to have periodic explosions on October 5, November 1, November 14, December 14, and January 18. 2023. respectively, according to space.com.

“These outbursts… [have] “took this object from being faint enough to be seen with large professional telescopes to, in a couple of cases, something that people can see from their backyard,” Kareta said.

“There aren’t many comets that have bursts, these sudden increases in brightness, that are this strong, and even fewer that have them a couple of times during an orbit. It looks like Pons-Brooks… is really active,” he continued.

Dr. Eliot Herman, a retired University of Arizona professor and amateur astronomer who has captured images of 12P/Pons-Brooks with a remote telescope, encourages viewers to keep an eye out for Comet Diablo in the coming months.

“Historically, people have looked at the sky since they became self-aware, and being surprised by events occurring above us is something that goes back long before civilization,” he previously told ABC News. “I think events in the sky touch everyone in a very historic way. The universe is a big place and there are a lot of amazing things happening around us. It’s worth going out and just looking at it and being amazed.”

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