The return of “Devil’s Comet” after 71 years will light up the night sky: where and how to see it

After 71 years, Comet Ponce-Brookes, known by its nickname “Devil’s Comet” because of its strange behavior and explosive characteristics, has returned to the night sky (AP/Matias Delacroix)

For the first time in 71 years a Kite With a mischievous, sometimes explosive but temperamental nickname, it is visible in the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky. Currently it can only be viewed with Telescope one of two TelescopeBut it may soon be visible to the naked eye, and there is a possibility that it may be seen during total solar eclipse Of next month.

He Pons-Brooks Comet It was last seen in 1954 before returning last summer. just like famous Halley’s CometHe pons-brooks It is a “short period” comet that visits our part of the Solar System from time to time.

Short-period comets take less than 200 years to orbit the Sun, while long-period comets may take thousands or millions of years. With an orbital period of 71 years, Comet Ponce–Brookes is visible from Earth only slightly more frequently than Comet Halley, which appears every 76 years and was last seen in 1986.

pot Comets have been described as “frozen remnants of the formation of the Solar System”, with a core composed of dust, rocks and ice, and typically the size of a small city. When a comet passes near it, some part of that ice turns into gas. Sun, forming a planet-sized gas cloud around the core called a coma. A tail of gas and dust can stretch millions of kilometers behind a comet as it races through space.

Like the famous Halley’s Comet, Ponce–Brooks is a “short period” comet that periodically visits our part of the Solar System (NASA).

pons-brooks It is a “cryovolcanic” comet, meaning that it occasionally experiences volcanic eruptions of gas and ice. According to Lori FeagaProfessor of University of Maryland One who studies comets, “This is probably because the ice feels the sun’s warmth for the first time.”They move into the gas phase and exit the core, dragging other dust or ice with them.

One such outburst, in July, when the comet suddenly became 100 times brighter, caused its coma to take the shape of a devil’s horn, earning it the nickname “Devil’s Comet”. Other eruptions occurred on October 5, November 1, November 14, December 14, 2023, and January 18, 2024.,

For many astronomers and stargazers, this will be the only opportunity in their lifetime to see Comet Ponce–Brookes. “It’s interesting to study it during this (visit) because we only get one chance every 70 years… and technology and telescopes have improved a lot since their last appearance,” Figa said. “On this trip we should be able to better understand the chemical composition of the comet.”

He Pons-Brooks Comet It was officially discovered in 1812 by the French astronomer Jean-Louis PonsAnd again in 1883 William BrooksHowever there is evidence that it had already been seen in 1385.

Comet Ponce-Brookes was last seen in 1954, marking its long-awaited return last summer (Petr Horálek/Opava Institute of Physics/APOD NASA)

The comet is currently visible from the Northern Hemisphere during the evening, near the western horizon. For now, they need it Telescope or a Telescope To see. By late March, it may become bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from some locations, and will continue to shine until it passes closest to Earth. Sun, on 21 April. The best chance of seeing the comet with the naked eye will be away from city lights and in clear skies.

“Although the comet will brighten slightly, it is likely to remain TelescopeHe said, “In many places elizabeth warnerDirector of University of Maryland Astronomical Observatory, in an email. “From dark places, it can be seen with the naked eye.” The comet will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere until early May, when it begins to fade, and then only visible from the Southern Hemisphere until June, before disappearing by 2095.

It is rumored that the comet can be seen during total solar eclipse On 8th April. If so, it can only be seen by people walking in the path of totality, an approximately 180 kilometer wide strip that texas Until Iwhere is he Sun will be completely blocked by moon And the sky will become almost dark as night, and perhaps only Telescope,

“If the comet has an explosion that makes it a little brighter, it may be seen closer, to the left of the Sun.” jupiterSaid warner, “Of course, the real show is the eclipse, so Don’t miss out on the fun by spending all of it searching for the comet.“He added fega,

(c) 2024, The Washington Post

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