Pons Brooks Kite | Last chance to see Devil's Comet at sunset

We still have a chance to see Comet Pons Brooks at sunset. Its luminous shell, called the coma, now has a magnitude of +5 and can be seen with the naked eye, though spotting it requires skill. It lies quite low on the horizon at dusk, yet it can still provide us with some joy and we may get more photos of this wonderful periodic visitor.

“The devil’s comet” as he is officially called Ponce BrooksIt follows an eccentric orbit that places it, for the most part, in the distant regions of the solar system. The furthest point from the Sun (called apogee) is more than 33 times the average distance between Earth and the Sun.

Ponce Brooks It visits the inner region of rocky planets, our environment, every 71.2 years. When approaching the Sun, an internal cooling activity occurs that decorates it with a bright coma and a variable tail.

The formation of these beautiful features, both comas and tails, that make comets unique, is the result of the Sun heating the ice that forms part of their core, which is about 35 km in diameter.

Comet explosions

This comet showed great volatility as it appeared Several bursts of light As a result of the sudden sublimation of ice on its surface. The comet's outer crust weakens, and when it breaks apart, gas pressure sends small clumps of collected, low-cohesion material into space. When exposed to solar radiation Continue to segment.

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Composed of a friable mixture of ice, organic matter and fine, fine dust particles, they help scatter sunlight, giving the coma a hazy appearance, and producing a dust tail.

The gases released are ionized by interaction with the charged particles of the solar wind and produce a beautiful, usually bluish, ion tail.

During its synodic rotation (around the Sun), which takes about 57 hours, the active regions of Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks are periodically exposed to solar radiation. When the ice is heated, it sublimates and, as a result, releases large jets of gas and dust toward the coma. This continuous outward injection of particles contributes to maintaining the brightness of the coma and supporting the comet's tails.

The possibility of observing the comet in the coming months

The geometry in which we observe the comet crossing through the solar system on this occasion was not the best, but it remained available for several months in the afternoon sky.

There is still a chance to see it after its perihelion pass, before it departs towards the southern hemisphere and moves away, until its next pass at the end of June.

In these last days of March, we will appreciate how the comet approaches the Sun at an angle, reaching less than thirty degrees of elongation, thus forcing us to see it at sunset. To observe it, we must look for a high place free of light pollution towards the west.

In the middle of twilight, it is difficult to see with the naked eye. Some 7×50 or 10×50 binoculars will help focus on the area of ​​the horizon where we expect it to be. The comet will have a hazy appearance that will be easy to distinguish from the stars. We can also feel its tail pointing away from the sun.

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The comet is expected to arrive in the coming weeks Stellar size 4 when he enters the constellation Aries.

Until early April we will have the opportunity to observe it from the Northern Hemisphere. From the beginning of May, it will be in the constellation Taurus, best seen from the Southern Hemisphere, although it is already within the limits of naked-eye observation.

This comet will still provide stunning images for even the most experienced astrophotographers, having passed through perihelion and developed its dust tail.

It will then move away towards the remote regions of the solar system.

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