‘Devil Comet’ Will Be Visible During Eclipse

Vega and Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Vega and Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks | Image by Dan Bartlett/NASA

Local residents and visitors to the area will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see two rare astronomical sights at the same time next month.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, nicknamed the “Devil Comet” due to its hornlike appearance, is expected to be visible from Earth on April 8, coinciding with a rare total solar eclipse that will be seen across a large swath of Texas.

The April 8 eclipse marks the first time in nearly 150 years that the city of Dallas will see a total solar eclipse, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

In what NASA described as a “very unusual coincidence,” the Devil Comet’s trajectory into the inner solar system will bring it to within 25 degrees of the Sun, making it visible during the solar eclipse.

“Currently the comet is just on the edge of visibility to the unaided eye, best visible with binoculars in the early evening sky toward the constellation of the Fish (Pisces),” said NASA on its website. “Comet Pons-Brooks, though, is putting on quite a show for deep camera images even now.”

Scientists are uncertain how bright the comet will be on April 8, as it is prone to “outbursts” of increased brightness.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks was originally discovered in 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons and rediscovered by William Robert Brooks in 1883. It completes its orbit in 71.3 years, coming within 0.78 astronomical units (AU) of the sun at its closest approach and 17.2 AU at its farthest, according to The Sky Live.

This comet last visited the inner solar system in 1954 and is expected to reach its closest approach to the sun on April 21. Scientists say the comet will never cross the orbit of planet Earth.

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