Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS has been wowing observers in the southern hemisphere recently and there have some fantastic images taken of it. So when do we in Armagh get a chance to see this visitor from the Oort Cloud? The answer is next week!
Looking west from Armagh at 6.30pm on 14 March 2013. The comet’s position is marked with an ‘X’. (Image credit: Colin Johnston/Armagh Planetarium.Stellarium)
Comet PANSTARRS reaches perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun on 10 March, after this it will start to move away from the Sun and to be visible in the twilight sky to observers in the northern hemisphere. It will appear as a faint elongated ‘smudge’ hanging low in the sky (note comets do not zoom across the sky) and may be tricky to find as the sky will be very bright. You will need to find a relatively clear and unobstructed horizon.
On 12 and 13 March it will be seen in the western twilight not far from the crescent Moon. You can use the Moon to find it. On 12 March the comet will be to the Moon’s upper left. On 13 March, the comet will be to the Moon’s lower ...