Look: Rare 'devil comet' spotted in UAE; how to see it with naked eye

Though it will be around until early June, now is the best time to catch it in the sky


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Photos: X / AstronomyCentre
Photos: X / AstronomyCentre

Published: Sat 30 Mar 2024, 2:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Mar 2024, 11:21 PM

A rare, bright comet was spotted in Abu Dhabi desert earlier this week — and astronomy experts said residents would still be able catch it if they look up in the right direction after sunset.

This ball of fire — dubbed 'devil comet' due to its two horns — was captured in a photo taken by Al Khatt Astronomical Observatory on March 27.

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It will reach its closest point to the sun on April 21 and it will be nearest to earth on June 2, according to the International Astronomy Centre (IAC).

It is expected to be highly visible when the total solar eclipse happens on April 8, Nasa said.

Discovered in 1812, this periodic comet revolves around the sun once every 71 years. It is officially known as 12P/Pons-Brooks and was last seen from Earth in 1954.

Although it is expected to get brighter as it moves closer, it could be more challenging to see it when it approaches the horizon and the sun. "So, now is the best time to see it," the IAC said.

"As the days go by, its height decreases until it becomes difficult to see at the end of April," the centre added.

How to see it in the UAE, according to the IAC:

  • Look to the west about 45 minutes after sunset.
  • The comet is expected to be at an altitude of about 15 degrees above the area where the sun sets.
  • Try using a smart app that shows a map of the sky that determines the comet's location among the stars.
  • Though it can be seen with the naked eye, it's best to use binoculars.
  • It may first appear as a hazy spot. But if you're viewing it from a completely dark place, you might be able to catch its tail.

Comets are like snowballs made up of dust, rock, and ice. "They range from a few miles to tens of miles wide, but as they orbit closer to the Sun, they heat up and spew gases and dust into a glowing head that can be larger than a planet," Nasa said.


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