‘Devil comet’ returns after 71 years; may be able to see it during the eclipse

The comet – officially called comet 12P/Pons-Brooks – has the nickname devil comet beaus of the two "horns" made up of ice and gas.

If you’re a fan of celestial events, April 8 is going to be a big day for you.

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A massive comet nicknamed the “devil comet” is set to pass by Earth for the first time in 71 years and may be visible during the April 8 total solar eclipse, NASA said Monday.

The comet — officially called comet 12P/Pons-Brooks — has the nickname “devil comet” because of two “horns” made up of ice and gas that appear on the sides of the comet.

According to NASA, the comet will be at its brightest on April 21. However, a total solar eclipse will take place on April 8 and throw a large swath of the country into darkness, possibly allowing comet watchers to have a dark, clear background to see the devil comet, NASA says.

“Comet 12P’s April 21 perihelion passage (its closest pass to the sun) will be only two weeks after the April 8 total solar eclipse, putting the comet in planet Earth’s sky,” the agency said.

The comet has periodic “outbursts” or explosions that make it brighter, according to NASA. The last major outburst was in July 2023 when 12P/Pons-Brooks suddenly became 100 times brighter, according to

The comet is bright enough to observe using telescopes and binoculars.

Comets are made up of dust, frozen gases, ice and rocks bound together following the formation of the solar system, NASA says. Comet 12P was discovered by Jean Louis Pons in Marseilles, France, in 1812.

The devil comet is believed to have a diameter of about 10.5 miles, according to the American Astronomical Society. It travels on an orbital path that takes about 71 years, according to NASA, and was last seen from Earth in 1954. It will be closest to Earth on June 2, scientists say.

The comet’s periodic explosions or “outbursts” make it brighter and easier to spot with telescopes and, in some cases, “something people can see from their backyard,” Dr. Theodore Kareta, a postdoctoral researcher at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, previously told ABC News.

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