Pan-STARRS Comet Visible Next Week

Peachtree Corners stargazers can catch a glimpse of the Comet Pan-STARRS which is expected to be visible in the west just after sunset for up to an hour.

For Peachtree Corners astronomers, and even those who just enjoy gazing at the night sky, this month stargazers are in for a treat.

Now through March 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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