April 18, 2024

‘Comet Star Wars’ could erupt during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

The giant comet the size of Halley’s comet that now displays a strange horseshoe shape could be visible during the next total solar eclipse.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks was already about to become big news on our planet. It orbits the sun every 71 years, but will be closest to the sun on April 21, 2024.

It is currently being imaged by astrophotographers in the northern hemisphere every night after becoming five times brighter last week.

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Strange Shape

It has developed a strange horseshoe-like horn shape that makes it resemble the Millennium Falcon, the spaceship piloted by Han Solo in the Star Wars film franchise.

A comet in a spark means an unexpected brightening and expansion from the nucleus of a halo.

That caused a lot of excitement among astronomers and amateur astronomers, who can now see the giant comet in a six-inch telescope. Last week that was impossible.

The unpredictable activity suggests that something more exciting could be coming up next year for comet watchers.

Darkness in the Day

Pons-Brooks perihelion next year is well-timed, coming just a few weeks after the April 8, 2024 North American total solar eclipse visible from 14 US states, Mexico and Canada on April 8, 2024.

It is predicted to reach its brightest – when closest to Earth – on June 2, 2024, when it could reach magnitude +4.7. That will make the object an eye opener at night.

However, our first glimpse of Pons-Brooks may come in the daylight hours.

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During totality on April 8, 2023 – when day turns to night as the sun’s disk is blocked by a new moon for up to 4 minutes 27 seconds – Pons-Brooks could show up. At that moment it will be 27º from the sun and close to the bright planet Jupiter, which will also be visible.

It will be a rare opportunity to photograph the sun’s corona together with a comet.

“It will be near perihelion and 27º from the solar corona next April 8,” said a solar eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com. “Imagine if there’s an outbreak during the eclipse!”

Do you wish a clear sky and wide eyes.

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