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Comet PANSTARRS

6 March 2013: Northern hemisphere observers are just few days away from the first view of the comet Pan STARRS (C/2011 L4). Observers in southern hemisphere already witnessed the beauty of the comet. Low in southern hemisphere sky the comet has displayed very obvious tails, and was easily viewable with naked eyes, even from light polluted towns and cities.
Pan STARRS
PanSTARRS as seen from Australia. Photo credit: Michael Mattiazzo.
Pan-STARRS is moving rapidly towards north and will become visible across Asia, Europe and North America from 7 March onward but it will show peak brightness on Sunday 10 March when it will be closest from the Sun (called the perihelion). It may or may not lose brightness quickly afterwards, so it is advisable to catch this comet as soon as possible after 10th March!.

It is expected that the comet will also be viewable from Northern hemisphere with naked eye. One should be able to take photo of the comet with normal digital camera.

The best times to look the comet will be on the evenings of March 12th and 13th, because on those evenings one can use the crescent Moon as a guide to find PANSTARRS. On the 12th the comet will be to the Moon's upper left and on the 13th, the comet will be to the Moon's lower right.

How can you watch the show?

Although PANSTARRS should be a naked eye comet, it's NOT going to be an easy naked eye comet like Hale-Bopp, Lovejoy or McNaught, because we're going to be seeing it against a bright sky, so it will be best if you have a pair of binoculars with you when you are looking for it.

The best times to look the comet will be on the evenings of March 12th and 13th, because on those evenings one can use the crescent Moon as a guide to find PANSTARRS. On the 12th the comet will be to the Moon's upper left and on the 13th, the comet will be to the Moon's lower right.

Pan STARRS
(Picture credit NASA)

One still need to use some effort as the comet will not be very high in sky and will be close to horizon. So, the show may be spoiled by city light or tree shadow.

If your skyline towards west is cluttered with trees or buildings or hills, chances are high that they will block your view of the comet. So, you need a place with flat western horizon to view the show.

As always, you need to get out of town to avoid light pollution. It is also advantageous if you can go high, and find yourself somewhere to observe with as low and as boring a western horizon as possible.

From the above youtube movie, you will find whether the comet will be visible in your area and if yes when.







Related story:

Orionid meteor shower 2012

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