Comets PANSTARRS and Lemmon Still Linger for Early Morning Views

by Nancy Atkinson on May 17, 2013

Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) as seen in the early morning Arizona skies on May 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) as seen in the early morning Arizona skies on May 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

The comet show is still not over! Early on May 16, 2013, astrophotographer Chris Schur from central Arizona was able to see two comets at once, Comet PANSTARRS AND Comet Lemmon. “We set up on our 14 foot tall balcony observing pad and was able to get the very low Comet Lemmon as it rose in the eastern sky,” Chris told Universe Today via email. “While PANSTARRS was up high by 2:30am, we had to wait until 3:30 before we could try Lemmon.”

While neither comet was visible to the naked eye, Chris reported that both were seen quite clearly in the 11×80 binoculars. “It was fun to go back and forth rapidly between the two objects to compare,” he said. “While PANSTARRS is now a very low surface brightness wedge shaped object, Lemmon was just a huge ball of light, about two magnitudes brighter.”

Comet Lemmon as seen over central Arizona on May 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

Comet Lemmon as seen over central Arizona on May 16, 2013. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

If you look carefully you can see the comets are stationary, and the stars are slightly trailed from the motion against the starry background.

“One point Id like to make is that PANSTARRS is currently exhibiting one of the most spectacular anti tails I have ever seen,” Chris said. “I have imaged hundreds of comets but never one with such a long sunward spike. This comet is VERY special.”

When viewed edge on from Earth, the anti tail appears as a spike projecting from the comet’s coma towards the Sun It is geometrically opposite to the other tails: the ion tail and the dust tail.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his great images of these comets!

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About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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