Monday, March 11, 2013
Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)
Predicted positions of Comet PanSTARRS this week.
This week, starting tomorrow, Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) will be reaching its perihelion, or its closest point to the sun. Indeed, tomorrow evening, 12 March, it will be found in the evening just to the left of the waxing crescent moon. This is a rather bright comet appearance that, if not visible with the naked eye, is certainly an easy binocular target. As its name implies, it was discovered in 2011 by the PanSTARRS telescope in Hawaii -- and this is a non-periodic comet, so this is your only chance to see it!
For more information, you might note:
Sky and Telescope Magazine's highlights of the week, with a great chart showing the comet's position in the sky each day this week: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ataglance?pos=left
Sky and Telescope Magazine's article on the comet itself: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/Spot-Comet-PanSTARRS-in-Twilight-196688441.html
Space.com's summary of the comet's appearance and some stargazing tips: http://www.space.com/20091-comet-pan-starrs-night-sky-stargazing-tips.html
Also, here is the article on the NASA website about C/2011 L4:
For background on the discovery of the comet, check here:
For more technical data on Comet PanSTARRS, you might note this link: http://scully.cfa.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/returnprepeph.cgi?d=c&o=CK11L040
Here is another link with a number of maps and details on the position of the comet: http://www.aerith.net/comet/catalog/2011L4/2011L4.html
Comets may have once been a foreboding sign, but they remain impressive in any age! Don't miss it!