Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) has been putting on a good show for observers in the southern hemisphere. Our turn has arrive in the northern hemisphere. But, the show will not be as impressive. Here is a sky chart looking west just after sunset during the twilight time. If you have clear skies and an unobstructed view to the horizon, you might get to see it. Use binoculars.
The evening of the 12th would be the easiest to spot the comet. It will appear just left of the new moon. Each successive evening the comet will appear more to the northwest and a little higher in the sky. The moon will quickly move up and not be near the comet. The chart shows the comet about 10˚above the horizon. That is a fist width at arm’s length. So, it won’t be very high. If you wait too long for it to get darker, the comet will have moved lower and possibly out of view. Your viewing time is quite limited.
Come below for a couple of images of the comet in recent weeks from Australia.
If you have any questions, I am happy to try to answer them. Good luck with your attempts to see it.
Photographs have the advantage of longer time exposures. Views by the naked eye will not be as impressive. You might be able to make out the bright head of the comet. Be prepared for a disappointing view. But, if the skies cooperate, do give a try at seeing it. These events don’t happen often.
The comet over Western Australia on March 3rd by Jim Gifford.
Comet PanSTARRS from Australia on March 1 by Rob Kaufman
Hopes are high for another much more impressive show later in the year by Comet ISON. More about that much later. There is already too much hype about it. I am going to hold back on that.