Comets are very difficult to predict just how spectacular they will look. We won’t know how bright PANSTARRS will be until it passes the Sun on March 10th. The really good news: Observers in the southern hemisphere are reporting the comet has brightened considerably in recent days. If the trend continues we in the northern hemisphere should have no problem seeing the comet. When comets are spectacular they are an incredible once or twice in a lifetime sight, so don’t miss it!
NOTE: We have mountains in the way of the western horizon.
- Start looking on March 10, 20 minutes after sunset . The comet may be visible as early as March 7, but given we have the mountains blocking the view it will be easiest to find on March 10
- The comet will be visible for 20-30 minutes before it sets behind the mountains – MINUTES COUNT
- Moon may be difficult to find on March 12 – A very thin crescent moon
- The Moon will be above the comet on March 13
- Binoculars will help – A telescope is not needed
The comet will be low, just above the mountains. That, along with the sunset glare, may make seeing the comet challenging. If so, don’t give up. A comet that you can see is a rare event. Remember also Comet ISON is coming in November. It could be the best comet in 400 years. The chance to see two comets in one year is not likely to happen again in your lifetime.
If you want to keep track of the comet’s progress along with the latest pictures coming in from the southern hemisphere check out Sky and Telescope.
Remember because the comet is so low you will have only a 20 to 30 minute window to view it. The comet should be visible through March, but the tail and brightness will diminish as PANSTARRS moves away from the Sun and Earth.
Wishing you clear skies and good comet hunting
Sunset times for Denver CO Time is MDT
Mar 10, 2013 7:02 PM
Mar 11, 2013 7:03 PM
Mar 12, 2013 7:04 PM
Mar 13, 2013 7:05 PM
Mar 14, 2013 7:06 PM
Mar 15, 2013 7:07 PM
Mar 16, 2013 7:08 PM
Mar 17, 2013 7:09 PM
Mar 18, 2013 7:10 PM
Mar 19, 2013 7:11 PM
Mar 20, 2013 7:12 PM
Mar 21, 2013 7:13 PM
Mar 22, 2013 7:14 PM
Mar 23, 2013 7:15 PM
Mar 24, 2013 7:16 PM
Mar 25, 2013 7:17 PM
Mar 26, 2013 7:18 PM
Mar 27, 2013 7:19 PM
Mar 28, 2013 7:20 PM
Mar 29, 2013 7:21 PM
Mar 31, 2013 7:23 PM