May 22, 2024

Berlin | 12P/Pons-Brooks: How to Take Pictures of 'Devil's Comet'

Berlin (dpa/tmn) – The name of Comet 12P/Pons Brooks is less exciting than the nickname “Devil’s Comet.” The ice and dust patch, known for its bright streams of gas and dust, can currently still be seen in the night sky. However, spotting the milky spot with a green-tinged tail is not easy. If you want to take beautiful photos of the Devil's Comet, you need to organize a little equipment.

Find the correct monitoring location

12P/Pons-Brooks is currently visible on the western horizon and is expected to be visible in the Northern Hemisphere until mid-April. According to Simon Plait of the Urania Planetarium in Potsdam, the best time to observe and photograph it is around 9 p.m. If possible, choose a dark place with few light sources in the area.

Bright Jupiter serves as a guide. A little further down, a hand's width above the horizon, with a little luck the comet can be seen as a hazy gray speck. If you use binoculars, you may also be able to see the sparkling green tail.

If you don't know your way around the night sky, you can get help using an app – for example with Starlight, Star Walk or SkyView. These apps use location data and display constellations and planets on the screen when you point your smartphone camera at the sky. Apps are usually free in the basic version.

Choose the right equipment

You don't need highly specialized equipment to photograph the Devil's Comet. Astronomer Simon Plait recommends using a camera with a larger lens. Ideally a digital SLR or compact camera. To prevent image blur, use a tripod or a hard surface.

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Now it's time to experiment with the camera settings until the photos look good. According to Simon Plate, good results can be achieved with an exposure time of around 10-30 seconds and an ISO setting between 800 and 1600.

If you don't have a camera on hand, with a little luck, you can also take great photos with a smartphone. Many devices offer special modes for night photos or even astrophotography. If you don't have a tripod, you can hold the smartphone with both hands and rest your arms on a wall or table to reduce camera shake.