The Devil Comet Has Returned to Australia After 70 Years, Here’s How You Can Watch It

The Devil Comet Has Returned to Australia After 70 Years, Here’s How You Can Watch It

Up in the night sky above Australia, you’ll soon be able to see the first ‘Devil Comet’ to grace this part of the galaxy in more than 70 years, but comets aren’t as simple as looking up to the moon like for a solar eclipse. How might one see the ominous green comet above Australia?

What is the Devil Comet?

The Devil Comet, often casually referred to as a ‘green comet’ as it appears above Australia, is scientifically known as Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks. It’s a short-period comet in that it takes less than 200 years to orbit a celestial body, orbiting our Sun every 71.2 years, per It’s similar to the famous Halley’s Comet in this way. It’s estimated to be bigger than Mount Everest.

The ‘devil’ name comes from its horns; last year, the comet had an outburst, which caused its trails to distort and take on a horshoe-like appearance.

As for its green trail, this is caused by ice erupting from the comet and forming gas from the sun’s heat.

How to see the Devil Comet in Australia

The green Devil Comet will be visible in the sky above Australia for a short period of time, with the best view tipped for April 22 (per Dr Rebecca Allen from Swinburne University of Technology). You’ll want to turn your attention to the West as the sun sets, looking out with as clear a view as possible.

While it’s said that you’ll be able to view the comet with the naked eye, it’s recommended that you bring binoculars, just in case, or even a telescope for the best view possible. As you’ll be looking out to the West at Sunset, obviously don’t look at the sun. The comet should also be visible from Australia for this week and into the next – but April 22 will be the best time to view it.

If you’re planning on doing some stargazing, don’t forget to rug up, and try to avoid big cities so you don’t get light pollution interfering with your view.

What time is the Devil Comet?

The Devil Comet will be most observable at sunset today, and on the sunset of each day until it disappears from our skies. Given that the twilight sky will interfere with visibility, it might be difficult to see – but if you want to put it in your calendar, here’s when it’ll be visible from today, based on sunset times across the country.

  • Sydney: 5:24pm
  • Brisbane: 5:24pm
  • Hobart: 5:27pm
  • Canberra: 5:30pm
  • Adelaide: 5:43pm
  • Melbourne: 5:44pm
  • Perth: 5:47pm
  • Darwin: 6:37pm

Keep in mind that light pollution and tall objects, such as buildings, will likely interfere with your view of the Devil Comet – so you’ll want to be as far from any obstacles as possible.

Will the Devil Comet hit Earth?

There’s no threat that the Devil Comet will hit Earth. The comet is only expected to be visible from Australia from this week, with it getting closest to Earth in June and July, and then continuing its orbit around the Sun to complete its 71.2-year journey.

Is there a comet headed to Earth?

NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory estimates five asteroids heading towards Earth soon, but there’s no expected impact. The closest will be within 606,000km from the planet. The laboratory predicts no significant impact for the next century.

The C/2022 E3 (ZTF) comet, as pictured, is similar to the Devil Comet with a green trail. Image: iStock/Disney

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