Look Up in the Sky Cerritos-Artesia! It's Comet Pan-STARRS

The comet will become brighter as it passes closest to the sun March 10. Look for it on the western horizon just after sunset.

Comet fans, it's time to turn your eyes skyward.

The comet named after the array of cameras and telescopes on Mount Haleakala on Maui may sport a very cool dust tail, says NASA, and it's one the first of two comets expected over the Northern Hemisphere in 2013.

Comet Pan-STARRS will be passing within view, NASA says, but seeing it might take binoculars, clear skies, and a unobstructed view of the horizon.

By March, 10, when it passes closest to the sun, says EarthSky.org, it will not only get brighter, but may develop the classic comet dust tail as the heat vaporizes the ice and dust. The website has a Pan-STARRS viewing guide.

To view it, you'll have to look to the western horizon just after sunset, away from streetlights and other sources of light. Get as high up as you can. Ridgelines would be best.

Depending on the date, it should be visible just after sunset for 45 minutes. It will climb higher and be visible longer later in the month. Around March 12-13, the new moon could provide an additional visual treat, EarthSky recommends.

The comet gets its name from who discovered it, in this case, the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, operated by the University of Hawaii on Mount Haleakala on the island of Maui. 

In February, the comet was visible to the those in the southern hemisphere. Sky and Telescope published these comments and photos from observers in Buenos Aires about their observations by naked eye, telescope and camera lens.

If you can't catch this comet, there's something to look forward to, come November, when the even brighter Comet ISON is expected.



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