A comet similar to the Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars is headed for Earth.

Astronomers have made an unusual discovery: they have spotted a comet shaped like the Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, known for its 71-year orbit around the Sun, recently became 100 times brighter, giving it a distinctive horseshoe shape reminiscent of the iconic spaceship. This rare celestial phenomenon has caused a stir among skywatching enthusiasts, who may soon be able to observe it without a telescope.

The comet’s closest approach to the Sun is scheduled for June 2, 2024, and it will pass at a distance of about 144 million miles from Earth. What makes this event even more exciting is its timing – just a few weeks after the total solar eclipse that will occur in North America on April 8, 2024.

Although the comet can be seen with the naked eye, astronomers recommend using binoculars for optimal observation. They explain that comets naturally get brighter over time, and this comet is guaranteed to be brighter. Additionally, there is the possibility of a flare during the eclipse, further enhancing the spectacle.

The recent dramatic increase in the brightness of comet 12P/Ponce Brooks has astronomers perplexed. Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association suggests that an active ice volcano on the comet’s surface may be the cause of this unusual phenomenon. He notes: “This is in some ways a revolutionary idea that there is liquid inside a comet.” This discovery supports the theory that comets not only brought water to Earth, but also played a role in spreading the elements that make up life on our planet.

Dr. Edward Gomez of the Las Cumbres Observatory in Cardiff, Wales, explains that comets originate from the Oort cloud, located far beyond the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. He states, “This gives us a great snapshot of what the conditions were like during the formation of the planets and how they formed.” This new understanding of the composition and behavior of comets sheds light on the formation of our solar system and the possibility of life in it.

The flash of comet 12P/Pons-Brooks was originally detected by Elek Tamás of the Harson Observatory in Hungary on July 20. It was later recorded by members of the Comet Chasers education and outreach project, led by Helen Usher of Cardiff/Open University, UK, using the Faulkes Telescope. Carrie Holt of the University of Maryland estimates that the comet ejected about 10 billion kilograms of dust and ice into space.

While most people will have to wait until next year to witness this unusual event, amateur astronomers have a chance to see it now. By using a six-inch telescope and pointing it at the constellation Draco in the northern part of the sky, they will be able to see this once-in-a-lifetime comet.

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