After weeks of putting on a nice show for the southern hemisphere, PanSTARRS finally drifted into view for northern observers. We had a crystal clear sky for dusk this evening and I found a spot with a good view to the west on McMillan Mesa.
The comet finally came into view about 7:00 PM with the sun 7 degrees below the horizon and the comet 6 degrees above. It was a beautiful white fan over a gray-blue sky. The central condensation appeared elongated with the brightest section of the tail on the right (north) side. There was a hint of a fainter, shorter tail on the left (south) side. I roughly estimated overall visible length at around half a degree. I tried spotting it naked eye, but couldn’t confirm a couple suspected glimpses.
While making sketches, I had a chance to share the view with a couple people who pulled over to take a look, including Kevin Mullins, planetary science professor at CCC. I also suspect Bill Ferris was just parked a couple hundred yards up the road.
As the comet began to set behind Mars Hill, it took on a ruddier color and shared an interesting, overlapping view with passing aircraft. As good as it looked through binoculars, it’s got to look amazing through a telescope. So I’ll have to try that next.
|Subject||C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)|
|Position (J2000)||Pisces: [RA: 0 25.543 / Dec: -2° 37.961′]*|
|Date/Time||MARCH 10, 2013 – 7:00-7:25 PM MST (MARCH 11, 2013 – 0200-0225 UT)|
|Observing Loc.||Flagstaff, AZ – McMillan Mesa|
|Instrument||15 x 70 Oberwerk Binoculars|
|*References||Starry Night Pro|