Visible Comet Pan-starrs

From: Accessed 07/March/2013

COMET PAN-STARRS AT SUNSET: Observers in the southern hemisphere are getting a good view of Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4). It appears in the western sky just after sunset, a faint but easy target for the naked eye and a wonderful sight through binoculars or a small telescope. The comet was 100 million miles from Earth on March 5th when John Sarkissian of New South Wales, Australia, took this picture:

"I photographed Comet Pan-STARRS as it set behind the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope (made famous in the movie The DISH)," says Sarkissian. "This is a 5 second exposure taken through my Canon 400D digital camera set on ISO 1600."

Several important dates are approaching. On March 10th, Comet Pan-STARRS makes its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). At that time, solar glare might make it difficult to see even as the nucleus vaporizes and brightens. O March 12th and 13th, the comet will reappear in the sunset sky--this time in the northern hemisphere not far from the crescent Moon; think photo-op! Light curves suggest that the comet's brightness will peak near 2nd magnitude, similar to the stars of the Big Dipper. Check the realtime comet gallery for the latest images.

More about Comet Pan-STARRS: NASA video3D orbitephemerislight curves.