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When will comet 2 P/Pons-Brooks be best seen?

When will comet 2 P/Pons-Brooks be best seen?

It is a special celestial event that people will be able to see with their naked eyes in the next few days. Comet 2 P/Pons-Brooks should be visible in the evening sky over the next few days. It is about 240 million kilometers away from Earth.

Austria. There is no doubt that seeing a comet in the sky is a wonderful experience, especially if it has a visible tail. The last notable sighting was Comet NEOWISE in the summer of 2020. It is currently possible to spot Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks in the sky, but only if you know where to look. Although the comet can be seen without aids under ideal conditions, it is still not visible in the evening sky. This may seem surprising, especially in light of the uproar he has caused with outbursts of anger and “devil’s trumpets” in recent months.

It was discovered in 1812

“Every year or two, a similar bright comet visits us,” says Dr. Franz Kirschbaum, a professor at the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Vienna, responded to my request. “It takes 12 P/Pons-Brooks about 71 years to orbit the Sun. It was discovered in 1812.” Incidentally, it's also called the “Devil's Comet” because it looks like it has devil's horns.

With its orbit around the Sun, its orbit is similar to that of the famous comet 1P/Halley. 12P/Pons-Brooks, along with Halley's Comet, is one of the largest periodic comets. While the 1P/Halley core is about 15 km across, the 12P/Pons-Brooks core is twice as large at about 30 km.

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“On April 21, it becomes closer to the Sun, and then it is a little farther from Venus,” says Kirschbaum. “After another half-orbit, its elliptical orbit takes it outside the orbit of Neptune.”

What is a comet?

A comet is a celestial body made up of rock, dust, and frozen gas and is often described as a “dirty snowball.” Some comets are similar to the age of our solar system, about 4.5 billion years. Its core consists of bits of matter and dust held together by frozen gas, mainly water, carbon dioxide, ammonia and methane. As the comet approaches the Sun, its core heats up and the ice begins to evaporate, expelling gas and dust. This material then forms a glowing tail that often tracks behind the comet. The closer a comet is to the Sun, the larger and brighter its tail becomes, as evaporation and outgassing become more intense.

When can the comet be seen?

When can you see this comet? According to the astrophysicist, it is best to observe it in the evening in the west and northwest between 7:30 pm and 8:15 pm until the first week of April. It will then be visible in the southern hemisphere.

For an optimal experience, Kirschbaum recommends using binoculars. “It appears as a diffuse, slightly greenish, elongated mist.” A low horizon to the west-northwest without disturbing lights is also ideal.

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