Comet Pan-STARRS is heading north!


C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs): star chart

C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs): star chart

The waiting is almost over. After more than one year of promises and hopes for a great show, comet C/2011 Pan-STARRS is ready to jump in the northern skies.

Since it was discovered in May 2011, astronomers and amateurs found it had reasonable chances to give a nice show almost two years later. Since then, it’s increasing brightness was monitored constantly and a few weeks ago it showed a significantly decreasing rate, suggesting a less spectacular show than expected. But these last days it gained some brightness and people living under the southern stars are already enjoying it.

But it is question of days. Comet Pan-STARRS is speedy moving north and in a few days it will make its long-awaited apparition in the northern skies. It will reach the perihelion next March 10, when it should reach magnitude 2/3.

The map above shows its path in the sky, day after day: it is apparent how the comet will be low above the western horizon soon after the sunset, so you will need to find an observing site offering a perfect view in that direction. Of course, a binocular is just perfect to see this comet at its best.


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