Photographers in the Southern Hamisphere have been snapping beautiful pictures of Comet Panstarrs – see examples at Earthsky.org. In a few days it’ll be our turn. If we’re lucky it might be visible to the unaided eye.
As seen from mid-northern latitudes, Comet Panstarrs might become visible with an optical aid around March 7 or 8. However, the comet will sit in the glow of dusk and will set around 40 to 45 minutes after sunset. By March 12, the comet will be considerably higher in the sky and will set around 75 minutes after sun. What’s more, the comet will be next to the waxing crescent moon on the North American evening of March 12.
The comet will pass closest to the sun on March 10, when it’s expected to be at its brightest.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]
All the best comets of my lifetime have been visible only in the Southern Hemisphere, or only a faded remnant of what they had been by the time they cross the equator. If this is a conspiracy, it’s a very high level one…
It’s a conspiracy to keep comets away from Canadians. The effects on the rest of North America, Europe, and Asia are collateral damage.
For “between $470 and $663”, you can buy one of the 88 seats being sold for a March 16 two-hour comet-viewing charter flight at 11,000 meters, “most likely above the clouds”.
(If it were a three-hour tour, instead of a two-hour flight, I would start to worry about where it was going to land.