Comet PANSTARRS: How to See it in March 2013

Comet 2011 L4 PanSTARRS imaged from Argentina by Luis Argerich on February 13th, 2013. (Credit: Luis Argerich - Nightscape photography. Used with Permission).

Great ready. After much anticipation, we could have the first naked eye comet of 2013 for northern hemisphere observers in early March. As discussed earlier this week on Universe Today, 2013 may well be the Year of the Comet, with two bright comets currently putting on a show in the southern hemisphere and comet C/2012 S1 ISON set to perform the closing cometary act of 2013. But while comet C/2012 F6 Lemmon won’t be visible for northern hemisphere residents until April, Comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS (which we’ll refer to simply as “Comet PanSTARRS” from here on out) may well become a fine early evening object in the first two weeks of March.

That is, if it performs. Comets are often like cats. Though we love posting pictures of them on the Internet, they often stubbornly refuse to perform up to our expectations. Some comets have been solid performers, like Hale-Bopp in 1997. Others are often promoted to great fanfare like Comet Kohoutek in 1973-74, only to fizzle and fade into notoriety.
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