03 March 2013

A Comet in the West: PanSTARRS from San Francisco

Comet Panstarrs in March
We have a comet about to emerge into the evening sky. PanSTARRS will be a nice sight, not a magnificent comet but an easy target that will be visible in the dusk sky in the next 2-3 weeks. I plan to look for it from Ocean Beach here in San Francisco, where the clear ocean horizon should provide a good setting.

Comet PanSTARRS is currently visible from the Southern Hemisphere, but will move north and into view later this week. Although its low apparition will not make it shine very brightly, it will be a lovely sight for those who make the effort to view it, especially through binoculars, where the image is best seen. A telescope will zoom in too far, and naked eye viewing of PanSTARRS will probably be unimpressive, so I strongly recommend a pair of binoculars to see the comet at its best.

Sky & Telescope Magazine has a very good updated page on the latest on the comet. And more information is also available on the Earth Sky website.

Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

Update March 12, 2013: Saw PanSTARRS from high above the Bay Area, on Skyline Boulevard near highway 92. I needed binoculars to see it well, making a beautiful appearance next to the young crescent Moon. It's work to find, but worth it.

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