FROM SPACEWEATHER.COM: THIS COMET IS ABOUT TO BLOW: Ice volcanoes on Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks have erupted half-a-dozen times in 2023. Astronomers are starting to see a pattern. “The last few outbursts have been on a 15 day cadence,” reports Nick James of the British Astronomical Association (BAA), “and we might be coming up to another one.” James prepared this plot showing the clockwork quality of recent eruptions:Inset: Comet 12P on Dec. 14th, date of the most recent outburst. Credit: Eliot Herman.
The last outburst took place sometime around Dec. 14th. That means the next one is due on Dec. 29th or 30th.
Why is the comet erupting every 15 days? Basically, it’s because the comet spins with a 2 week period. Somewhere on the comet’s surface there is a cryovolcanic vent that gets hit with sunlight with this same cadence.
“It’s like ‘Old Faithful’,” explains Richard Miles of the BAA. “Comet 12P has a super cryogeyser, eruption of which is triggered after local sunrise at its location.”
Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor 12P in the nights ahead. Precision timing of the next outburst could help astronomers pinpoint the location of the geyser on the comet’s surface.
Point your optics at the constellation Lyra, right here.
All most complete and up to date resources needed to find Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks in the sky (86 kB)