The giant Pons Brooks Comet is currently crossing the solar system. How can we observe it?

This is a rare cosmic event.
Indeed, the passage of Comet Pons Brooks will not occur before… the year 2095.
Right now, the comet is still too faint to be seen with the naked eye, but it can already be seen with binoculars just after sunset.

The last time he appeared was in 1954. His next visit to Earth will not be before 2095. Suffice it to say that it would be a shame to miss this rare cosmic event, to say the least. The giant comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is currently crossing our solar system, following an invisible path that will bring it as close as possible to our planet on June 2. On this date, the hairy star will be about 225 million kilometers from Earth.

Sometimes called the Devil's Comet because of the two horns that form its hair, this giant ball of ice and dust, 20 kilometers in diameter, takes about 71 years to orbit our star. On April 21, Comet Pons Brooks will reach perihelion, the point in its orbit closest to the Sun. As it approaches, solar radiation heats its core and part of the ice evaporates and turns into gas, giving it its distinctive cloud property.

Where do you look in the night sky?

Right now, Comet Pons Brooks is still too faint to be seen with the naked eye. But over the coming weeks, the star will gain speed and become brighter and brighter, so much so that we will undoubtedly be able to see it from Earth. Meanwhile, you can try to spot it just after sunset using binoculars or a small telescope. On Sunday, March 10, it will be in the corner of the sky toward the constellation Andromeda. But you'll need dark skies, free of light pollution, and therefore far from cities, to hopefully be able to see it.

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To spot it, point your binoculars above the horizon to the west at the beginning of the night. If necessary, location TheSkyLive It provides you a map to locate it based on your location. You can also use the Stellarium app (internal control Department And robot, free) to more easily identify the Andromeda constellation. Simply point your smartphone camera at the sky to reveal the names of celestial objects. It was identified by its Charles Messier catalog number: M31.

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Once you locate it, remember to put your phone in your pocket to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness of the night sky and ensure they are able to absorb as much of the small star's dim light as possible. It will also be possible to observe him behind your screen, thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project, which will broadcast his observations live from his YouTube channel. After that, it will shine brighter until April 21. The comet will pass through the constellation Pisces and then Aries from our terrestrial perspective.


Matthieu Delacharlieri

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