View Comet Pan-STARRS March 5-12

The comet named after the array of cameras and telescopes on Mount Haleakala on Maui is one of the first expected over the Northern Hemisphere in 2013.


Comet fans, it's time to turn your eyes skyward.

From March 5 to 24, the Comet Pan-STARRS will be passing within view, NASA says.

By March, 10, when it passes closest to the sun - says EarthSky.org, which has a Pan-STARRS viewing guide - it will not only get brighter, but may develop the classic comet "dust tail" as the heat vaporizes the ice and dust.

To see it, you'll have to look to the western horizon just after sunset, away from streetlights and other sources of light. Coastsiders, you have an advantage here. 

Depending on the date, it should be visible just after sunset for 45 minutes. It will climb higher and be visible longer later in the month. Around March 12-13, the new moon could provide an additional visual treat, EarthSky recommends.

The comet gets its name from who discovered it - in this case, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, operated by the University of Hawaii on Mount Haleakala on the island of Maui. 

In February, the comet was visible to the those in the southern hemisphere. Sky and Telescope published these comments and photos from observers in Buenos Aires about their observations by naked eye, telescope and camera lens.

If you can't catch this comet, there's something to look forward to, come November, when the even brighter Comet ISON is expected.

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