Suddenly, amateur astronomers are seeing a naked-eye comet in the evening sky. It's Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, also known as the 'devil comet'. Waiting for next Monday's solar eclipse in Mexico, Petr Horálek photographed the comet last night and found it much brighter than the last time he saw it:

Devil Comet
© Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in OpavaTaken by Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava on April 4, 2024 @ Veľká Lomnica, Slovakia; Monterrey, Mexico
"I assume an outburst is in progress," says Horálek. "My estimate of the comet's magnitude is +3.5. Definitely worth taking a look in the next hours and days."

Indeed, now is a good time to look. After sunset, the comet emerges in the western sky not far from the planet Jupiter. Naked-eye observers will see a dim fuzzball. Cameras and small telescopes reveal the comet's magnificent tail.

Comet P12 Pons/Brooks
© MaryBeth KiczenskiTaken by MaryBeth Kiczenski on April 1, 2024 @ Eagle Harbor, MI
"I could see it naked eye once my eyes adjusted--but barely!" she says. "My camera had no trouble, though. This is a stack of 20 images, 30-seconds each."
Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks devil dragon
© European Space AgencyComet 12P/Pons-Brooks as seen in March. It's currently visible in the night sky for observers in the northern hemisphere.
Comet 12P is approaching the sun for a close encounter later this month. Its increasing brightness and proximity to the sun means it might be visible from the path of totality during the April 8th solar eclipse. Photos of a comet inside the Moon's shadow are very rare! A tip for eclipse photographers: Take two cameras--one for the sun, and another for Comet 12P. You might be glad you did. [sky map]

More images: from Chris Schur of Payson, Arizona; from Michael Jaeger of Martinsberg Austria; from Toni Scarmato of San Costantino di Briatico, Calabria, Italy