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The Chance of a Lifetime

During the total solar eclipse on April 8th, skywatchers might get a rare glimpse of a comet with their naked eyes or binoculars. Comet 12/P Pons-Brooks, which visits our solar system every 71 years, will be close to the sun just two weeks after the eclipse.

The Comet’s Temperamental Nature

The comet’s brightness is predicted to be at the limit of visibility, but it has a history of sudden flare-ups called outbursts. If it has an outburst before the eclipse, it could become more visible.

How to Find the Comet

During the eclipse, the comet should be near Jupiter. Look to the left of the eclipsed sun, about a hand’s length away. You should see Jupiter as a bright point of light. Scan around Jupiter with binoculars to find the comet, which will appear as a fuzzy object.

Safety First

Remember, it’s safe to use regular binoculars to view the eclipse only when the sun is completely covered. Never use binoculars during a partial eclipse.

Astronomers’ Expectations

Experts are cautious about the chances of seeing Pons-Brooks. It may not be visible to the naked eye, but it could appear in photos taken during the eclipse.

The Mystery of Comet Outbursts

Scientists don’t fully understand what causes comet outbursts. One theory is that heat from the sun triggers the release of gases and material from the comet’s nucleus.

Enjoy the Eclipse, Comet or Not

Even if you don’t spot the comet, the total solar eclipse is a breathtaking event. Take the opportunity to witness the sun’s glowing corona and the temporary twilight it creates.