"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Comet Pan-STARRS at its brightest this weekend
A comet that just made its way into the Northern Hemisphere evening sky should be at its brightest this weekend, but it may be tricky for stargazers to see.
On Sunday (March 10), the Comet Pan-STARRS is expected to make its closest approach to the sun, potentially making the comet shine even more brilliantly when it appears at twilight low in the western sky, weather permitting. But stargazers will need a bit of preparation (not to mention a clear sky) to see the comet.
On Sunday, Comet Pan-STARRS will pass about 28 million miles (45 million km) from the sun during its close approach. The comet made its closest pass with the Earth on Tuesday (March 5) when it flew by at about 102 million miles (164 million km) from the planet.
“It will appear in the west at sunset, from around the 8th to the 13th of March 2013, and will be visible to the naked eye up to the end of the month: Comet Pan-STARRS C/2011 L4 will traverse Cetus, Pisces, Pegasus and Andromeda,” Paris Observatory officials wrote in a statement Thursday, as the comet entered the Northern Hemisphere’s evening sky after months of being visible from the Southern Hemisphere.
Image: The progression of comet Pan-STARRS across the night sky in March 2013; Credit: Science@NASA