Astronomers and other scientists around the world have recently been fixated on what is being called the "Devil" comet hurtling its way through space. The gargantuan ball of space ice first started catching the science world's collective attention during the summer and a recent event has attracted even more eyes than it had previously.

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Before diving into the details though, let me make one thing abundantly clear; the answer is no, we do not need Bruce Willis to save us. Well, not yet anyway.

Defining "Big" in "Devil" Comet Terms

To say that this comet is big simply does not do it justice. To be honest, I don't know if there's a word in the dictionary that properly emphasizes how big this comet really is. So since a word can't do it justice, let's put it on a scale.

Comet Kohoutek
Evening Standard /Getty Images

In an article from the New York Post, it emphasized that this comet is literally the "size of a small city". Numbers might actually be the perfect way to emphasize the magnitude of this comet. The "Devil" comet has a diameter of approximately 18.6 miles. In comparison, Mt. Everest, you know the tallest mountain on planet Earth, stands at only 5.5 miles high. So this comet is literally 3x bigger than Mt. Everest.

Aerial View Of Mount Everest
Getty Images

Naming the Comet

For those that didn't know, at any given time there are thousands upon thousands of comets moving through space at any given time. Earth actually gets hit by a number of these celestial objects everyday, the only reason we don't hear about them all the time is because the vast majority of them burn up and disintegrate as it moves through the atmosphere.

The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Many of these celestial objects also have their own individual names or I should say they are given their own names. According to an article from Live Science, the "Devil" comet is actually named 12P/Pons-Brooks meaning that "Devil" is just its nickname.

Youtube-New York Post-Devil Comet
Youtube-New York Post-Devil Comet

How did 12P get its nickname though? Well, Lice Science answered that question as well. See 12P is not just a comet but it is also "cryovolcanic" or a cold volcano. A cold volcano is literally the same thing as a volcano as we traditionally know them, except this volcano when it erupts, it emits ice, dust and gas called "cryomagma". This is also how the comet got its devilish nickname.

Youtube-New York Post-Devil Comet-Richard Miles-Comet Chasers
Youtube-New York Post-Devil Comet-Richard Miles-Comet Chasers

In early October, the comet erupted and emitted tons of its cryomagma. These eruptions combined with rays from the sun made the comet appear that it was shining brighter. In fact, it shined so brightly that the sun's rays through the comet and its debris made it appear as if the comet actually had horns. So, the name "Devil" comet is basically an optical illusion.

"Devil" Comet Journey to Earth

Let me reemphasize when I say the comet is visiting Earth, I don't mean that it's coming right at us. The comet itself is simply on its own long journey around the sun, though the "Devil" comet takes a LOT longer than Earth to finish its lap. Comet Comet

We all know that it takes the Earth 365 days or one calendar year to make one lap around the sun. In comparison, the Devil comet will take roughly 71 Earth years to finish its one lap. This means that once it passes by, we won't be seeing this comet again until the year 2095. For those interested, the Devil Comet will be closest to the planet in late April 2024. Comet Comet

This means you still have plenty of time to prepare for seeing this particular celestial body. Scientists are also anticipating that this cryovolcano will continue with its eruptions and expelling of cryomagma. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck and some clear skies, we could potentially see these devilish horns for ourselves when April rolls around.

The International Space Station

Initially constructed in 1998, the International Space Station (ISS) is approximately 250 miles above the earth's surface, traveling at 17,500 mph. The ISS orbits Earth every 90 minutes and completes around 15 orbits daily.

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

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