Pan-STARRS comet to be visible from southern AZ - Tucson News Now

Pan-STARRS comet to be visible from southern AZ

© Comet Pan-STARRS by Terry Lovejoy in Australia © Comet Pan-STARRS by Terry Lovejoy in Australia
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Stay with the only team of scientists in southern Arizona for the latest news on Pan-STARRS.

A comet will be seen in the sky over Arizona next week.

You can use a telescope or binoculars, but says the comet will be visible to the naked eye as it becomes visible to people in the Northern Hemisphere by Thursday. 

Right now only Southern Hemisphere stargazers can see the comet. Below is a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day showing Comet Pan-STARRS the sky over South America along with Comet Lemmon.

Comet Lemmon is named after Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Catalina Sky Survey operates a telescope at the top of the mountain. It was with this telescope a local astronomer discovered Comet Lemmon.

For when and where to look check out the information below from's story on Comet Pan-STARRS.

Comet Pan-STARRS stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS). That is the name of the telescope in Hawaii that discovered the comet in the sky. 

The following information is from  

March 5, 2013. Comet PANSTARRS passes closest to Earth at 1.10 Astronomical Units, (AU). One AU equals one Earth-sun distance, about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers. In other words, this comet will pass slightly farther from us than our distance from the sun. No worries about it hitting us.

Starting about March 7, 2013. PANSTARRS will appear above the western horizon after sunset for Northern Hemisphere viewers. To see it, you will need an unobstructed, cloudless view of the west after sunset. It is best to pick a dark spot, away from streetlights. Look in the sunset direction, as soon as the sky darkens. The comet will be just above the horizon.

March 10. The comet passes closest to the sun – as close as our sun's innermost planet, Mercury – at 0.30 AU – or about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers). Comets are typically brightest and most active around the time they are closest to the sun when solar heating vaporizes ice and dust from the comet's outer crust. Not only will the comet quickly brighten, but it should also develop the long classic comet dust tail.

Around March 12 and 13. Moonlight will interfere with the darkness of the night sky, but there should be some wonderful photo opportunities as the young moon returns to the same part of the sky as the comet.

Comet PANSTARRS from mid- to late March 2013

Around March 12 and 13 there will be some great opportunities to photograph the comet near a thin crescent moon, in the west just after sunset. Chart via NASA.

Throughout March 2013. The comet could be visible in the Northern Hemisphere evening sky low in the west after sunset. It will move northward each evening during March 2013 as it moves from being in front of the constellation Pisces to being in front of the constellations Pegasus and Andromeda. At this time, the comet might have a bright dust tail, and perhaps visible to the unaided eye or binoculars. It should, at least, if it lives up to expectations. Remember to look for the comet in the vicinity of the waxing crescent moon on March 1213 and 14. The comet swings above the star Algenib on March 17/18, and above the star Alpheratz on March 25/26.

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