Comet Pan-STARRS Finally Enters the Evening Sky!
Comet Pan-STARRS has been heading toward Earth since its discover a couple years ago. Its orbit is steeply inclined with respect to Earth’s and its approach has been from the south so southern hemisphere observers have been taunting us with their views for a couple of weeks now.
Now the comet is heading rapidly north and is putting on a show after sunset for those in the northern hemisphere. Lots of clouds in Tucson recently, but the last weather system moved out and the skies cleared today and we had a wonderful sunset. First a few pics of the sunset.
It took about half an hour after sunset before the comet became visible. I never saw it naked eye but it was easy in my 8×42 binoculars, very nice in my 20×80 binoculars and even better in a pair of 22×100 binoculars that I was testing for work this weekend! All my pics were taken with a Canon 60d and a 70-300mm zoom lens at 300mm and f/5.6.
Pan-STARRS had it closest approach to the Sun which is when comets are usually at their brightest. The comet will slowly fade but should be good for a week or so (longer depending on what sort of optical aid you have!) March 12th should be a particularly good night to catch the comet as it will be near the crescent Moon (I, unfortunately will be traveling…if I am really lucky and my plane is on time and I can find a spot, I MIGHT be able to see/photograph it while on a layover in Dallas…that will be my last chance to see it as I am heading to Chile and the comet will not be visible from the southern hemisphere by then!)
So get out your binoculars and look for the comet after sunset. Just google Comet Pan-STARRS for finder charts…many good ones are on the web.
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