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Watch the ‘devil comet’ soar through the sky in rare conjunction we won’t see again for 71 years

Published Mar 11th, 2024 1:50PM EDT

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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, also known as the “devil comet” because of its horn-like appearance, will soar past the Andromeda Galaxy in a rare conjunction we won’t see the likes of for another 71 years. Here’s how to see it for yourself.

The green, exploding 12P/Pons-Brooks comet has been soaring through the inner solar system on its way to Earth for a while now. It’s expected to come its closest to our planet in June, but until then, you can often see it blazing a path across the night sky if you know where to look.

Tomorrow, March 12, the devil comet will take part in a rare conjunction as it appears close to the Andromeda Galaxy, our closest galactic neighbor. Andromeda is located nearly 2.5 million light-years from the Milky Way. As 12P/Pons-Brooks makes its way across the night sky, it will appear to zoom past Andromeda.

The comet earned its peculiar nickname because of two horns that it appeared to develop after astronomers watched it explode back in 2023. It has since lost the horns and developed a green glow — a rare occurrence that means the comet has high levels of dicarbon in its coma and tail.

12P/Pons-Brooks is what we call a cryovolcanic comet. This means that it is an ice volcano, essentially, and it occasionally erupts when solar radiation cracks its surface. Whenever these explosions happen, the devil comet becomes much brighter, making it easier to see in the night sky.

While you could go out and try to find the comet in the sky on your own, if you want to view its rare conjunction with the Andromeda Galaxy easily, you can tune into a live stream being held by The Virtual Telescope Project on Tuesday, March 12. The observatory streams from Manciano, Italy, and will begin streaming at 2:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

It’s unlikely we’ll see anything like this for the next 71 years when the devil comet makes its next pass through the inner solar system. As such, you should definitely take advantage of the stream and check it out yourself. It’s also possible the comet might be visible during April’s eclipse, which will be the last total solar eclipse in the U.S. until the 2040s.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.