How to see a once-in-a-lifetime green comet dubbed 'Mother of Dragons' (2024)

Tonight, the night sky will be lit up by a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle as the 'Mother of Dragons' comet returns to the solar system.

The 21-mile-wide (34km) comet 12P/ Pons-Brooks, or Pons-Brooks for short, is making its first visit to the inner solar system in more than 70 years.

And the great news is that you won't even need a telescope or any special equipment to see this stunning display.

All you will need is a dark night and some patience to spot the Mount Everest-sized comet with the naked eye as it reaches its brightest point on Sunday.

However, Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society warns: 'Don't expect it to be dazzlingly bright - the kind of image you see in photographs. It's not going to be like that.'

Tonight the dazzling green 'devil comet' (pictured) might be visible with the naked eye over the UK

The comet earned its name as an eruption of the comet's ice volcanoes gave it a distinct horn-like appearance

READ MORE: New images of 'devil comet' are released ahead of its spectacular appearance in the night sky this month

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The Pons-Brooks comet is a periodic comet, meaning its orbit takes it through the solar system on a somewhat regular basis.

It takes 71.3 years for it to make a complete lap of the sun, making it a so-called Halley-type comet which appear in the solar system every 20 to 200 years.

This means opportunities to see the devil comet only comeonce or maybe twice in a lifetime.

As Pons-Brooks returns to the inner solar system, light from the sun will reflect off the comet's cloud of gas and ice - making it appear to glow brighter.

The comet will reach its maximum brightness as it reaches its closest point to the sun, or its apogee, which will take place tonight.

To see the comet this weekend look to the West in the 90 minutes after sunset, the comet should be below and to the left of Jupiter

Comets to look out for in 2024


This will be visible in June and July.

It will potentially be visible with binoculars.

This comet returns every 69 years.

C/2023 A3

This comet could be bright enough to the title 'Great Comet'.

It might be as bright as the brightest stars in the sky.

It will be visible through September and October.

No special equipment will be needed.

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At this time the comet might become bright enough to see with the naked eye, although it will still be very faint.

Dr Massey says: 'This is something that might just be visible to the naked eye if you don't have a Moon in the sky, if there's no light pollution and if the weather is really clear, then you might stand a chance.

'But for most of us, we're going to need to pick up a pair of binoculars.'

Since it might be hard to spot, DrMassey recommends using a star chart or night sky app to help locate it.

Jake Foster, astronomy at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told MailOnline: 'The comet will appear low in the west after sunset, setting below the horizon around 90 minutes after the Sun does.

'This means it will be difficult to observe, but not impossible. It will be just below and to the left of Jupiter, which will appear as a bright white dot to the naked eye.

Although the comet will be at its brightest, it may still be quite hard to see as the lighter evenings reduce its visibility.

Mr Foster says: 'Spotting the comet will require a clear view of the western horizon and a pair of binoculars or a telescope.

'Getting away from the light pollution of bright city lights will also help.'

The comet should be visible as a white spot to the naked eye, while telescopic photographs like this can reveal the swirling clouds of gas and dust that surround the nucleus

READ MORE: 'Once in a lifetime' comet larger than Mount Everest could become visible to the naked eye

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If you are lucky enough to get a good view of the comet this weekend, you might be able to see a detail that makes Pons-Brooks particularly special.

As the comet approaches the sun it glows with an eerie green light which is visible through a telescope.

'The comet's fuzzy green glow comes courtesy of diatomic carbon molecules (basically pairs of carbon atoms stuck together) on its surface,' Mr Foster explains.

'As the comet gets closer to the Sun, the Sun's radiation breaks the molecule bonds apart, releasing energy as vibrant green light.'

Pons-Brooks is also one of the few known cryovolcanic comets, meaning it regularly erupts with plumes of dust and ice.

Beneath the icy surface, the comet has a core of cold 'magma' made of liquid hydrocarbons and dissolved gasses.

As it is warmed by the sun, pressure builds up inside which eventually erupts with dramatic results.

12P/Pons-Brooks can appear to have a fuzzy green glow due to the presence of diatomic carbon molecules on its surface. These absorb energy from the sun and release it as green light

What do we know about the 'devil comet' 12P/Pons-Brooks?

Size: 21 miles (34k) across

Speed:40,000 mph (64,373 km/h)

Orbital period: 71.3 years

Associated meteor shower: Draconids in November through December

First identified: 1812

Discovered by: Jean-Louis Pons andWilliam R. Brooks

  • The 'devil comet' gets its name from the distinctive horned appearance caused by cryovolcanic eruptions.
  • The comet also appears green due to the presence of diatomic carbon on its surface.

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It was one of these eruptions which gave the comet its 'devil horn' appearance as a plume of dust created a second tail.

An eruption in July 2023 also caused the comet to become 100 times brighter from Earth, and more flare-ups are possible as we move through the month.

However, it isn't likely that these flares will be big enough to make the comet significantly brighter to the naked eye.

Like many periodic comets, Pons-Brooks has a long history of observation with the first recorded sighting likely dating back to 14th century China.

However, it wasn't until the 1800s that Pons-Brooks was recognised as a comet.

French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons, who is the most prolific visual comet discoverer of all time, first spotted the object in 1812.

Pons' observations were confirmed in 1883 byBritish-born American comet observer William R. Brooks.

The comet is named after these two astronomers and gets the title 12P on account of being the 12th periodic comet to be discovered.

The comet is also sometimes called 'The Mother of Dragons' because it is believed to be the origin of the draconic meteor shower which occurs between November and December.

Other comets to see

If you don't quite manage to see the 12P/Pons-Brooks comet this weekend, there is still hope for the rest of the year.

In 2024, we will be treated to two more comets that should be bright enough to spot with binoculars or the naked eye.

Between June and July, the 13P/Olbers comet will return to the solar system for the first time in 69 years.

This Halley-type comet won't be the brightest but it should be visible to careful observers in the Northern hemisphere with binoculars.

Through September and October, however, stargazers will be in for a real treat as C/2023 A3 makes its way to the inner solar system.

At its peak, it is believed that this comet could rival Sirius as the brightest object in the night sky.

It will be easily visible to the naked eye and there will be good views all month, weather permitting.

Explained: The difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks

An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.

A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.

This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small they are vapourised in the atmosphere.

If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

How to see a once-in-a-lifetime green comet dubbed 'Mother of Dragons' (2024)


How to see a once-in-a-lifetime green comet dubbed 'Mother of Dragons'? ›

Since it might be hard to spot, Dr Massey recommends using a star chart or night sky app to help locate it. Jake Foster, astronomy at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told MailOnline: 'The comet will appear low in the west after sunset, setting below the horizon around 90 minutes after the Sun does.

Where can I see Mother of Dragons comet? ›

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is visible in the night sky for observers in the northern hemisphere, offering a rare chance for professional and amateur astronomers to catch a glimpse of an object known for its spectacular outbursts of gas and dust.

How to find the green comet tonight? ›

If you know how to locate the North Star by following the two stars on the end of the Big Dipper's cup, then you should be able to spot the comet as a faint smudge between the Big Dipper's “cup” and the North Star.

How to spot comet tonight? ›

Look for a circular, wispy patch of light with possibly a faint tail that stretches up and to the left of the bright central area, or coma, that surrounds the comet's nucleus.

What is the comet in the mother of all dragons? ›

The "Mother of Dragons" comet, also known as 12P/Pons-Brooks, graces the Northern Hemisphere with its distinctive green glow. Visible every 71 years, its cryovolcanic eruptions contribute to its brightness.

What time can I see green comet? ›

C/2022 E3 (ZTF) appears green because the sunlight is interacting with carbon and cyanogen in the comet. The best viewing times are after the moon has set, just past midnight for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

How do you get a comet dragon? ›

The Comet Dragon can only be bred at the Cooperative Breeding Cave. The breeding pair of dragons must contain the Comet Dragon and any other dragon.

Can you see the Green comet all night? ›

How do I spot the green comet? To catch the comet, look north. This green comet is unusual because it's well positioned near the North Star, which means most people in northern latitudes can see it. In fact, for anyone living in or above the continental United States, the comet is now visible all night long.

What comet is visible in 2024? ›

An unusual "horned" comet is now visible in the night sky — and it may even make a rare appearance during the 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks can currently be seen in the night skies of the northern hemisphere.

Did I just see a comet? ›

A comet, if visible at all, will be a fuzzy blob, or smear, across the night sky visible for many night to weeks. An asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye.

What time to see Mother of Dragons comet? ›

“The comet will brighten a bit as it gets closer to the sun, and it should be visible to the naked eye low in the west [each evening] about an hour after sunset,” Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, and Davide Farnocchia, a NASA navigation engineer told CNN in a joint email.

What does Devil's comet look like? ›

What colour and size is it? This comet glows green, not red like a devil, with a tail shooting off. It's also very large, measuring up to 10km wide and 17km long. The Devil's Comet will be best seen near the horizon at dusk.

How to see the Devil's comet in 2024? ›

The comet's tails point away from the Sun – so will rise upwards from the western horizon in the evening sky. While the comet is visible with the naked eye, you really need to know where to look. The best bet is to search with binoculars. Make sure to wait until the Sun is well below the horizon.

Who is the 3 dragon mother? ›

Daenerys Targaryen hatched three dragons by placing her three dragon eggs on Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, before she walked into the fire to claim them. And hence the name, Mother of dragons.

How rare is Mother dragon? ›

The Mother Dragon has a 2% chance of hatching from the Fantasy Egg. With the Lucky Egg gamepass, the Mother Dragon has a 4% chance of hatching. The other dragons exclusive to the Fantasy Egg are the: Taihoa, with a 74% chance of hatching.

What is a sky dragon? ›

Sky Dragons are one of the six classes of dragons found in Xadia. They possess a connection to the magical energy of the Sky. They make use of various elements of the Sky, including movements of the wind, storms, and clouds. They are said to have an overall free-spirited and playful nature.

What time to see Mother of dragons comet? ›

“The comet will brighten a bit as it gets closer to the sun, and it should be visible to the naked eye low in the west [each evening] about an hour after sunset,” Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, and Davide Farnocchia, a NASA navigation engineer told CNN in a joint email.

Where can I watch The Mother of dragons? ›

Mother of Dragons. #GameofThrones is streaming on Max. HBO | HBO · Original audio | Facebook.

When to see comet 2024? ›

The 'devil comet' will be visible during the 2024 total solar eclipse. It's not often a bright comet is near the Sun during a total solar eclipse. On April 8, 2024, catch Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks' visit to the solar system. (Editor's note: This article was first published in 2023 and has been updated.)

Will comet 12P be visible? ›

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is visible in the northwestern sky early in the evenings. Over time, it will become harder to spot from mid-northern latitudes. The comet has gotten bright enough (magnitude 4.0) to see it with a small telescope or binoculars if the sky is dark.


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