(Image Source: NASA)
Earlier in the week I talked about a rare opportunity to see a comet. The comet’s name is L4 PANSTARRS. This comet was first discovered in June 2011 and for weeks it has only been visible in the southern hemisphere. This week the comet became visible to viewers in the northern hemisphere. However seeing the comet has been a challenge because it is low on the western horizon and you have to catch it just after twilight using binoculars or a telescope. So you must have an unobstructed view towards the western horizon. To further complicate viewing conditions, clouds have entered the mix. I do have some good news for fans of the night sky. The clouds should clear on Tuesday and that is when we will have one of the best opportunities to see the comet. Be looking to the west after twilight as PANSTARRS should rise higher above the horizon.
Many astronomers are already talking about the possibility of a more spectacular phenomena in November as comet ISON approaches the sun at a distance of 1.2 Million Kilometers from sun. If the comet survives this encounter we could witness a comet with a tail as bright as the moon.
Comets are bodies composed of ice and frozen gases. When the comets approach the sun they develop a thin/hazy atmosphere and often a tail. NASA shared this image of PANSTARRS that was captured in Mount Dale, Western Australia. They also added that the distant lights are from Armadale, a city located southeast of Perth. (Image credit: Astronomy Education Services/Gingin Observatory)
Fox6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt