Comet Pan-Starrs

Comet C/2011 L4 Pan-Starrs

Comet C/2011 L4 Pan-Starrs is now visible in the Northern Hemisphere! Seeing this new comet is a very tricky observation though it should become easier during the week. Although the Comet is quite bright – current estimates put it as mag 2 or maybe even a bit brighter, it is close to the Sun so is only visible for a short time after sunset. The map above shows where to look, but more important is the choice of viewing location – a good western horizon is essential. Start looking after sunset, probably 30 mins after the actual sunset time. On 12th and 13th March the comet will be close to the crescent Moon making location easier. Because of the twilight it may be difficult to see naked eye, but binoculars will make it a lot easier.

Geert Barentsen from Armagh Observatory has produced an excellent article on finding the Comet on his website here…

The animation on this page gives an indication of the time to be looking on a day by day basis you could check here. Note that it becomes a morning object later in the month, though it will have faded considerably by then!

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons of QUB has created charts designed specifically for Belfast. This one shows the altitude/azimuth of the comet at 7:00pm from Belfast. The second shows its position (ra and dec) relative to the stars over the same time interval. This also shows the horizon on the first date plotted, but it does not show the correct altitude/azimuth for the comet after that date. Many thanks are due to Prof Fitzsimmons for these charts!

Members and friends photographs of the Comet are shown in the Gallery here…

Good luck!

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