‘Devil Comet’ 12P/Pons-Brooks To Be Visible During the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (See Photos)

27th Feb 2024
‘Devil Comet’ 12P/Pons-Brooks To Be Visible During the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (See Photos)

On the 8th of April, 2024, a total solar eclipse will take place at the Moon’s ascending node, during which it will be possible to see planets and stars that are otherwise not visible during the day. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks will also be visible close to the Sun during that period. Here’s why it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you don’t want to miss.

NEW Photos of the “Devil’s Comet”

The week prior and the forthcoming weekend, spanning from March 29th to the 31st, present optimal opportunities to catch a glimpse of Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks gracing the night sky. Already, enthusiasts on X (formerly Twitter) have shared breathtaking snapshots of this celestial phenomenon. Take a look!

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Image Credit: Con Stoitsis

“Amazing Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks 2024-03-26 UT 20:30 Courtesy. Observatorio Altamira Fasnia-Tenerife-Islas Canarias,” the author has written on X (former Twitter).

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Image Credit: Julio Maiz
Devil's comet
Image Credit: Michael Jäger
Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Image Credit: Michael Jäger

The Discovery of the “Devil Comet’s” Expected Appearance

Dave Weixelman, a hobbyist astronomer and a long-time comet enthusiast based in Nevada City, was aware that Comet Pons-Brooks would be at its closest point to the Sun (perihelion) in 2024 and could potentially be visible to the naked eye. He used SkySafari software to plot the comet’s position at the time and date of the eclipse and selected a location within the region of totality in southern Texas for viewing. He discovered that the comet would be located close to Jupiter and around 24.5 degrees from the Sun during the total Solar eclipse in April. 

This implies that the Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks will likely be visible to those using a telescope or binoculars or photographing the view with a camera during mid-eclipse. Comet Pons-Brooks has an orbital period of seventy-one years, and the 2024 solar eclipse is only two weeks before the Devil Comet approaches perihelion. In other words, this is your only chance to see the Devil Comet!

comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks in the constellation Lyra and near the bright star Vega. Credit: https://www.dblanchard.net/

On the day of the eclipse, the comet will sit around 1.61 AU away from Earth, or approximately 240 million km, on the far side of the Sun from the planet. It will be around the time it achieves maximum brightness since it will not come any nearer to Earth even when it orbits the Sun after approaching it. 

Viewing Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks

During the 2024 eclipse, six planets, including Venus and Jupiter, will be visible. Venus, with a magnitude of -3.9, will be the brightest. The planet will also be situated around 15 degrees southwest of the Sun. On the other side of the Sun, approximately 30 degrees northeast of it, Jupiter, with a magnitude of -2, will be visible. 

According to Weixelman, Jupiter can be used as a guidepost to locate Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. The Devil Comet will be located around 6 degrees west of Jupiter and around 24.5 degrees northeast of the Sun, making it easier for observers to spot it using binoculars.

Although the position of the comet during solar eclipse may not be ideal for viewing from Earth, current estimates suggest that it will have an apparent magnitude of around 5, although comets can be unpredictable in terms of brightness. Weixelman suggests that the visibility of Comet 12P through binoculars during the solar eclipse may vary based on its brightness at the time. However, while it is uncommon, there have been instances where comets have been visible during a solar eclipse when the darkness brought about by the eclipse makes the sky appear like nighttime during the day.

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