‘Devil’ Comet to Swing Past Earth – How to See it in Louisiana
Should Louisiana residents be concerned that a so-called "devil comet" complete with horns is heading in the general direction of Earth? I guess you could be concerned if you enjoy looking a celestial bodies as they pass by in the night sky. But, as far as a concern for your safety I don't think the Comet 12/P-Pons-Brooks, more commonly known among star gazers as the "Devil Comet" will pose any threat at all.
What the comet will do is give you a reason to look up during April of next year. As luck would have it, the comet is supposed to be coming into view to the naked eye very near the time the next total solar eclipse will slide across the country. That's supposed to happen on April 8, 2024, and you won't have to travel too far into Texas to see the total solar eclipse on that day.
Here in Louisiana, we will only see a partial eclipse in April but like the one we just experienced earlier this month, you will certainly notice a change in the daylight as the moon's shadow passes across the surface of the Earth. But enough about eclipses, you wanted to know more about the Devil Comet.
Based on observations astronomers believe the comet is about the size of Mount Everest. It's made up of a mix of ice, dust, and gas. It's believed that the comet is one of about 20 that also have an active volcano. It's this spewing of gas from the volcano and other cracks in the comet's crust that give the appearance of "horns" when viewed through a telescope, hence the name Devil Comet.
Those who wish to see the comet should be able to catch it with the naked eye in early to mid-April. Astronomers are saying April 21, 2024, is the first day you can "officially" see the comet. It will be at its closest point to Earth on June 2. By close, we're talking more than 144 million miles, so it's close "in universal terms".
Comets do not require special glasses or equipment to view them. However, you might get a better image if you can observe the comet through binoculars or a telescope. Many viewing opportunities are currently being planned around the area. We will have details on those when they become available.
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Gallery Credit: Dino Flammia