Celestial neighbors: Comet Pons-Brooks and the Andromeda Galaxy were captured in the photo

Czech astrophotographer Petr Horálek has published a very spectacular photo. There you can see the comet Pons-Brooks (12P/Pons–Brooks), adjacent to the Andromeda Galaxy in the sky. 

Comet Pons-Brooks and the Andromeda Galaxy in the night sky. Source: Petr Horálek

Comet Pons-Brooks is the brightest periodic comet of 2024. It returns to the Sun after its 71-year “absence”. The comet belongs to the same Neptune family as the famous Halley (with an orbital period of just over 75 years), but according to recent estimates, its core has an even slightly larger diameter. Currently, Comet Pons-Brooks is approaching the perihelion of its orbit, due to which its apparent brightness in the earth’s sky is gradually increasing.

To photograph the tailed guest, Petr Horálek had to try hard. In total, on the evening of March 5, he drove over 300 km in search of a place with clear skies. As a result, Horálek stopped in the vicinity of the Slovak town of Revuk. When the astrophotographer was about to give up, he still managed to find an angle that allows him to capture a comet low on the horizon.

In addition to the comet, the Andromeda galaxy also appeared in Horálek’s photo (it can be seen higher in the sky). It is a spiral galaxy located 2.5 million light-years from the Milky Way. In the distant future, they will collide, which will lead to the formation of a single galaxy. The photo also showed fog illuminated by cars passing in the distance.

Comet Pons-Brooks will pass the perihelion of its orbit on April 21, 2024. Its apparent magnitude is expected to reach 4.5, which means that if suitable observing conditions are available, it can be seen in the sky with the naked eye. The comet will come closest to Earth on June 2, 2024. On this day, they will be separated by a distance of 232 million km.

According to https://earthsky.org

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