Incredible Views: Comet PANSTARRS Meets the Andromeda Galaxy

by Nancy Atkinson on April 3, 2013

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Two objects 2.5 million lightyears apart... PanSTARRS & Andromeda.  Credit and copyright: Brendan Alexander.

Two objects 2.5 million lightyears apart… PanSTARRS & Andromeda. Credit and copyright: Brendan Alexander.

We warned you it was going to happen, and here’s visual proof! In this comet encounter of the extragalactic kind, Comet PanSTARRS and the Andromeda Galaxy met each other in the skies above Earth. This great image by Brendan Alexander in Ireland shows the spectacular view. He said it was “a difficult image to capture due to low cloud, the low altitude of the target and tracking issue. I hope to get the chance to improve on this!”

Here’s another image from UT reader Anna Morris:


Comet PANSTARRS and the Andromeda galaxy over Suffolk, England on April 2, 2013. This composite images shows the movement of the comet during the imaging session. Credit and copyright: Anna Morris.

Comet PANSTARRS and the Andromeda galaxy over Suffolk, England on April 2, 2013. This composite images shows the movement of the comet during the imaging session. Credit and copyright: Anna Morris.

Want to see this meetup for yourself? Tonight might be even better:

Comet PANSTARRS shown every three days as it moves across Andromeda, passing near the Andromeda Galaxy around April 3. You can use Cassiopeia to point you to Beta Andromedae and from there to the comet.  The map shows the sky facing northwest about one hour after sunset. Comet and galaxy brightness are exaggerated for the sake of illustration. Stellarium

Comet PANSTARRS shown every three days as it moves across Andromeda, passing near the Andromeda Galaxy around April 3. You can use Cassiopeia to point you to Beta Andromedae and from there to the comet. The map shows the sky facing northwest about one hour after sunset. Comet and galaxy brightness are exaggerated for the sake of illustration. Stellarium

Did you capture this event, too? Let us know, or upload your images to our Flickr page.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Rob Sparks April 3, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Well, I did get them but nothing like those shots! I don’t have the location or the equipment/skills to do that (although I am working on the skills part).

Visually I saw them in 8×42 binoculars in the same field of view. Got some shots with my Canon 60D. Exposure times were short since the sky was still not dark and longer exposures would have washed out the galaxy and comet.

You can see my pics on my blog at http://halfastro.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/comet-panstarrs-and-the-andromeda-galaxy/

No one No where April 3, 2013 at 2:05 PM

What every happen to integrity of astronomy. Doctored Images on twitter.. Sheesh… I can see it’s OK for some stacking, understandably, But all the photo manipulation really takes away from the real value of the astronomical event.

Aqua4U April 3, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Please… no fog tonight! I want to see it too!

cschur April 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Well, we were clouded out again in northern arizona last night, hopeing for tonight!

Ole Jørgen Nordhagen April 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM

The comet-meets-galaxy party tonight at the observatory in Stavanger was a great success. Fantastic weather and the perfomers lived up to expectations. All binos and scopes were out. Although the bottom line was two grey dots in the sky, we will live happily ever after!

Pet23 April 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

I wish i wanna see it in my own eyes!! katstar.com

Annie Morris April 4, 2013 at 2:55 PM

My above image is a combo stack of exposures for M31, exposures for the comet and then stacked on the comet, stacked on the stars, and then the comet images relayered on top without aligning so the movement shown is both the comet movement in relation to M31 and the movement as the stars were setting in the evening. As I was just out with the tripod and camera without the telescope to track this was the simplest way to shoot and process it.

Me April 4, 2013 at 4:53 PM

It will be crystal clear here in the north’easten usa. Hope it will stay that way till morning.

creers April 5, 2013 at 6:38 AM

nice shot! too bad I’m not there to watched it! Eureka Joe’s

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