Sunday, March 3, 2013

Comet Pan-STARRS

Come join me, a great event is going to occur in March.  The comet Panstarrs should be be visible in the Western sky, after sunset.  I am planning on being at Horseneck Beach State Reservation in Westport, Massachusetts, on the beach below the bathhouse, by parking lot one, starting at 6:15 PM on March 12 through the 14th.  Sunset is around 6:45 PM and we will be watching and photographing the event.  People should dress appropriately, bring binoculars and if they want to try to photograph the event both a wide-angle and short telephoto lens along with a tripod and camera release, if available.  Also helpful will be hand warmers to wrap around the lens to prevent fogging.  Fully charged batteries for the camera and cards to record the event.

Hope to see you there.

Here is more information on the comet.
From Space Weather News
"Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) is now inside the orbit of Mercury, brightening as it plunges toward the sun. Observers in the southern hemisphere report say they can see Pan-STARRS with the unaided eye in the evening sunset sky.
"Despite bad light and smog pollution, the comet's nucleus was clearly visible to the naked eye as well as a small part of the tail," says Gruber. Light curves show the comet is approaching 2nd magnitude, about as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper.

Several important dates are approaching. On March 5th, Comet Pan-STARRS makes its closest approach to Earth (1.09 AU), followed on March 10th by its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). As Comet Pan-STARRS passes the sun, solar glare will make it difficult to see even as the nucleus vaporizes and brightens. By March 12th and 13th, the comet will reappear in the sunset skies of the northern hemisphere not far from the crescent Moon; think photo-op!

Throughout March 2013, the comet should be visible in the Northern Hemisphere evening sky low in the west after sunset. It will move northward each evening during March 2013 as it moves from being in front of the constellation Pisces to being in front of the constellations Pegasus and Andromeda. At this time, the comet might have a bright dust tail, and  should be visible to the unaided eye or binoculars.