Explosive green 'Mother of Dragons' comet now visible in the Northern Hemisphere

Arare, the "Mother of Dragons" comet, is visible after nightfall in the Northern Hemisphere.

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, a "Halley-type" comet, orbits the sun every 71 years. The ESA said that it last crossed Earth in 1954.

The city-size comet orbits the sun elliptically with a 10.5-mile (17-kilometer) nucleus. Recent investigations of the comet revealed a secret spiral of light around its cold center.

The head of 12P/Pons-Brooks is green and made of ice, dust, and rock like other comets. Because comets contain diatomic carbon molecules, which generate green light when exposed to sunlight.

This comet is a cryvolcanic, or cold volcano comet, which regularly erupts and spews its icy core into space, making it brighter than usual. Last July, scientists saw the comet erupt for the first time in 69 years, sprouting horns that gave it the nickname "devil comet."

The comet has exploded repeatedly since then, earning a reputation for "spectacular outbursts of gas and dust," according to the ESA.  

Previous outbursts gave the comet the appearance of horns, perhaps due to a notch of ice or rock that separated its frozen ejecta plume.  However, recent eruptions have not had this attribute.

ESA chose "Mother of Dragons" because the comet is assumed to be the parent body of the tiny "kappa-Draconids" meteor shower, which occurs yearly between Nov. 29 and Dec. 13.

USA Today claimed that the comet will shine brightest on April 21 when it approaches the sun.  

June is when the comet will be closest to Earth. ESA said it will no longer be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The organization says Northern Hemisphere skywatchers should see it in early April.  

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