Irene Worthington Baron


Beginning Thursday of this week, Comet Pan-STARRS will be visible in the northern hemisphere.  You won't need binoculars or a telescope to see it.  The magnitude may reach 1.  It will definitely be as bright as the three stars across the center of the constellation Orion. Right now the magnitude is reported to be a dimmer magnitude of 4.


To see Comet Pan-STARRS, look to the western horizon right after sunset on Thursday of this week, March 7, 2013. The comet will be low on the horizon, so position yourself away from trees or buildings which might obstruct your view.  Since it is so low on the horizon, you may find it easier to see by the 10th of March.


To help you find it, by March 13th, the comet should be seen right under the crescent Moon.  To locate the region, hold your fist at arms' length under the Moon. The comet should be at the lower edge of your fist. That would be a prime opportunity to take some photographs as you'll have both the Moon and the comet in the image.  Since you will be photographing a celestial object, the use of a tripod is recommended.  Otherwise your normal body motions will interfere and create a blur of the image. 


By April, the comet will be moving away from Earth and no longer be visible. The stream of material in the tail will become an orbit of debris around the Sun. The Earth will move through one section of this debris during January of  2014. Of course no one can predict the number of meteors and meteorites that will be visible during that encounter. It will be fun to anticipate seeing the meteor showers that result from Pan-STARRS.  Imagine, we will have a chance to be one of the first generations of observers to experience the phenomenon of the Earth moving through the debris field of a new comet.  Just in case the meteor shower becomes a meteor storm, have your camera ready. I plan to use my video camera. As we near that time, I'll let you know in what direction to aim the camera. 


Most meteor showers are best observed after midnight.  January isn't the greatest time of year to sit outside waiting for meteors, but the Pan-STARRS meteor shower might just be spectacular.  At least I hope so.


I have been disappointed during many meteor showers this last year due to inclement weather.  I'd get everything ready, including an optimistic attitude, to have my hopes dashed with an overcast sky. Clear skies are predicted here in Ohio for Thursday, so I'm going to try to see Comet Pan-STARRS.  I may have to go to nearby Dillon State Park to get a good unobstructed view, but it will be worth it.


This November will bring us Comet-ISON, perhaps the largest comet to ever pass Earth.  What anticipation that comet is creating.  W O W ! Can't wait for that one.  We'll have several weeks of viewing for what is being termed by some the "Christmas Miracle Comet."  Since the tail may be so large, I wonder what the debris field will be like if Earth ever passes through it?  Undoubtedly it will be spectacular.  What a great year for comet observers.  Lucky us!  


If you want to learn more, do an Internet search using the comet names.  Enjoy Pan-STARRS.






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