Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) keeps getting easier to see, and over the weekend, we were inundated with images and videos from astrophotographers around the world. NASA says that solar heating from the comet’s close pass of the Sun last week has caused the comet to glow brighter than a first magnitude star. Bright twilight sharply reduces visibility, but it is still an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes 1 and 2 hours after sunset. And as of March 15th, people reported they can see the comet with the unaided eye.
Photographer Fred Kamphues took this timelapse from the Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands, the oldest astronomical observatory in the world still active today. Kamphues notes that astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort of Leiden Observatory discovered the origin of comets in 1950. The observatory is used today by student astronomers to learn observing.
Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) taken on March 16 from Mount Faito (Naples, Italy). Credit and copyright: Ernesto Guido & Antonio Catapano
Special filters and a negative image to try and ‘tease out the structure of the tail,’ says photographer David G. Strange.
Comet PANSTARRS over Tallinn, Estonia on March 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Karthikeyan VJ
Comet PANSTARRS over the San Gabriel mountains on 3/12/2013 above Pasadena,CA, 3-4 miles from Mt.Wilson. Shot with a with Canon 60D. Credit and copyright: Henry Levenson.
Comet PANSTARRS, shot from near Keene, Ontario, Canada, on March 16, 2013, using a Canon 50D (modified) with Canon 200mm lens; 4 sec. exp.; f/4.5; 640 ISO. Credit and copyright: Rick Stankiewicz, Peterborough Astronomical Association (PAA) [/caption
This video, above, from UT reader Brent (a.k.a. HelloBozos) in Florida shows this compilation of views of the Sun and the comet. “At 2:08 in the video, a bird flies in front of the camera,” Brent said via email, “This was all done off the side the road, on 3-16-13 8pm-8:30pm.”
[caption id="attachment_100801" align="aligncenter" width="580"] Comet PANSTARRS over Arizona on March 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur
This image is from Chris Schur in Arizona. He says, “Note the fan tail appearing! Also the tail is really starting to curve in the images. Very easy to see naked eye, and so was the yellow color in binoculars when it gets lower.”
Comet PANSTARRS on March 17, 2013. Credit and copyright: Andrei Juravle.
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) taken near Koprivnica (Koprivni?ki Bregi), Croatia. Credit and copyright: Vedran Matica.
By Nancy Atkinson
- Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.