Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4)



Komeet Pan-Starrs  kun je de 2de helft van maart aan onze noordelijke hemisfeer zien, aan de westelijke hemel, even voor of na zonsondergang. Op 12 maart staat hij links van de Maan, op 13 maart rechts van de Maan.   Deze foto komt uit New Zealand.

BRIGHT COMET PAN-STARRS: Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) is inside the orbit of Mercury, brightening as it plunges toward the sun. Observers in the southern hemisphere say they can see Pan-STARRS with the unaided eye in the evening sunset sky. Michael White sends this view from Manawatu, New Zealand:


“As Comet Pan-STARRS was setting on the southwestern horizon, its nucleus was visible to the naked eye and its tail could just be seen with averted vision,” says White. “Crops in the foreground were illuminated by nearby highway lights.”

Several important dates are approaching. On March 5th, Comet Pan-STARRS makes its closest approach to Earth (1.1 AU), followed on March 10th by its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). As Comet Pan-STARRS passes the sun, solar glare might make it difficult to see even as the nucleus vaporizes and brightens. By March 12th and 13th, the comet will reappear in the sunset skies of 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 video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.

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