“Devil's Comet” hurtles towards Earth – 12P/Pons-Brooks Larger than Mount Everest

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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks attracted attention with its “devil horns” – now visible in the evening sky. An expert offers care tips.

Updated as of March 28, 10:50 am: Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is best seen in the sky right now. This comet with a diameter of about 30 kilometers can be seen in the sky till April 10. But even though the comet is significantly larger than Mount Everest, it can only be seen as small in the evening sky – after all, it is far from Earth and comes within about 225 million kilometers.

“Devil Comet” 12P/Pons-Brooks is now visible in the sky

Statement from March 22, 2024: MUNICH – Since the comet “Neowise” visible to the naked eye in the summer of 2020, there hasn't been a clear one. Comets In the night sky – until now. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks has been visible for some time using small binoculars or, in good condition, unaided. A few months ago the celestial body took care of things The explosions and the resulting “devil horns” caused a sensation – Now the “Devil's Comet” is heading towards the Sun and the Earth.

12P/Pons-Brooks is a periodic comet that takes 71 years to arrive. Sonne Circle once. Its long journey around our central star The Solar System The comet is now approaching the Sun. On April 21, 2024, it will reach the closest point in its orbit to the Sun, known as perihelion. Then 12P/Pons-Brooks is still 0.781 AU (equal to about 117 million kilometers) from the Sun and hurtling through space at nearly 170,000 kilometers per hour.

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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks will be visible in the sky in March and early April 2024 – you'll see it with binoculars and with the naked eye if the sky is clear. © IMAGO/Christian Grube

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks approaches the Sun and Earth

After perihelion, comet 12P/Pons-Brooks moves away from the Sun and approaches Earth. On June 2, 2024, it will come within 1.5 AU (about 225 million kilometers) of Earth. However, if you want to observe the comet, you will have to wait before these two dates. Comet expert Uwe Pilz of the Association of Star Friends (VdS) explains Merkur.de Van IPPEN.MEDIAWhy: “Clear vision should be in by the end of March, and you have until April 10th.” But the comet is then closer to the horizon and should be observed at dusk.

To find 12P/Pons-Brooks in the sky, look to the west at or after dusk and look for a milky point or “fuzzy star.” Comet Andromeda is located between the constellations of Pisces, Trine and Aries. are still present in the region The planets Mercury (far below the horizon) and Jupiter (slightly higher than the comet) can be seen.. One problem for beginners: Until March 28, the comet will be in a region with no clear stars for orientation.

Periodic Comet (Halley Type)
July 12, 1812
Jean-Louis Bons (1812) and William Robert Brooks (rediscovered 1883)
71 years
About 30 kilometers

Star Alpha Arietis helps find Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks

And then it changes: “From March 29 to April 2 it's closest to the brightest Alpha Auritis,” Bills explains. Also known as Hamal, this star is visible around 8 pm when the sky is still bright. “But the comet is now so bright that it stands out in binoculars. The tail should be easily identifiable,” says the comet expert. Pilz estimates that 12P/Pons-Brooks is visible to the naked eye.

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Comet will move towards Jupiter in coming days till April 10th. It gets brighter, but closer to the Sun. It means: It can only be seen at dusk; When it gets really dark, the comet has long since set. To whomsoever April 8th Total Solar Eclipse in USA Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks can be observed as a whole in the daytime sky.

Beautiful encounter in the sky: Crescent moon and Jupiter meet comet

On April 10th, with a bit of luck, you can see a beautiful encounter in the sky: the short crescent Moon visits the giant planet Jupiter, and a little further down you can see Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks – probably the last time you'll see it before it disappears in the northern sky. (tab)

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