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Devil Comet will be visible during the solar eclipse

Devil Comet will be visible during the solar eclipse

That's a name that begs to be investigated.

This is shaping up to be quite a month for astronomers and stargazers the world over, with the advent of a total solar eclipse set to be added to by the arrival of the "Devil Comet".

That's the name that has long been attached to comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, a rock that comes through our inner solar system only every 71 years and promises to be relatively bright and clear to see.

It's actually theoretically visible already under the right circumstances, ahead of being closest to the sun on 21 April, meaning that eclipse enthusiasts could set up a double-header quite easily.

A comet in the sky.
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This would mean finding a good location to watch the total solar eclipse on 8 April, then making sure they're far from light pollution that night to see if they can spot the Devil Comet, too, for a once-in-a-lifetime 24 hours of celestial activity.

In theory, you could even try to find the comet in the sky during that total eclipse, but given you'll only have a matter of minutes to do so, it might be safer to just enjoy that amazing experience without trying to find a pinprick in space to observe.

You'll also apparently want to pack at least binoculars and ideally a telescope, according to experts - while the Devil Comet will be visible with the naked eye, you'll need sharp vision and will get more from it if you can see it zoomed-in a little.

Talking to DigitalTrends, Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director at the Royal Astronomical Society said: "Don’t expect it to be dazzlingly bright - the kind of image you see in photographs. It’s not going to be like that. This is something that might just be visible to the naked eye - if you don’t have a moon in the sky, if there’s no light pollution, and if the weather is really clear, then you might stand a chance. But for most of us, we’re going to need to pick up a pair of binoculars."

That spooky name isn't attached to 12P/Pons-Brooks for no reason, by the way - it's been labelled as a Devil Comet because when observed closely by proper instruments, its tail appears to have a couple of points that could look like horns if you squint at them.

This isn't a unique phenomenon, so it's actually a category of comet, one that we've observed a fair few examples from.

Finding comets in the sky can be fairly challenging, but handily there are plenty of tools to help you nowadays.

Massey recommends getting an app on your phone that can help situate you relative to the sky above so that you know roughly what direction to look in as you start your search - these are the sorts of tools that astronomers would have dreamed of just a few decades ago.

Featured Image Credit: Javier Zayas Photographya. v. ley/Getty