Comet Becomes Visible Tonight!!!
For those that love stargazing and looking at unique things in the night sky, then a treat begins for you tonight (where there are clear skies). Comet PanSTARRS officially becomes visible in the northern Hemisphere tonight! For those of you that haven't followed, let me get you caught us...
Comet PanSTARRS was discovered in June 2011 by a telescopic survey from the top of Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. Since being discovered, the comet has been a treat only enjoyable by the southern Hemisphere, but that changes tonight. We have seen some amazing videos come out of the southern Hemisphere like this one.
How Can You See Comet PanStarrs?
First I want to mention that while it is viewable for the next few days, it will peak in brightness March 12-13 at sunset each night. It is forecast to be from -1 to +1 magnitude in the sky and that makes it about as visible as any star in the big dipper. This looks like it will be visibile to the naked eye!!!
When looking for PanSTARR, you need to look low in the western sky near sunset. It should be most visible in the 15 minutes after sunset.
It should appear as a bright point of light with a diffuse tail pointing nearly straight up from the horizon. This will basically look like an exclamation point in the horizon. NASA says a pair of binoculars should help quite a bit if you have access to a pair. NASA has a great picture to show you where to look as the days progress.
On March 12 - 13, it should be very close to the crescent moon and right now I have partly cloudy skies on Tuesday, March 12 and mostly clear Wednesday, March 13, so we should be able to see the comet!
Is This Rare?
While this is referred to as the year of the comet and you will probably get an amazing treat with Comet Ison later this year, these are normally visibile to the naked eye once every 5 to 10 years. If you can, I think it is worth trying to see this comet!
Skies should clear tomorrow night, so make sure you get out there to take a look!!!!
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