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Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)

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#626 james7ca

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:21 AM

As of recently, observers that live farther north will have an easier time seeing this comet. If you live in the southern U.S. you probably won't be able to see it in the evening without optical aid unless you are a good observer and/or have very clear skies.

Initially, this comet was only visible in the southern hemisphere, then it was initially visible in the southern part of the northern hemisphere (like in the days before its conjunction with the crescent moon), now you need to be even further north or it will stay too close to the horizon after sunset.

For example, from my latitude near San Diego California the comet is only 15 degrees above the horizon at sundown and it sets at 8:40PM local time (one hour and 33 minutes after sunset).

However, from Seattle Washington the comet is 21 degrees above the horizon at sundown and it sets at 10:31PM (a full two hours and 55 minutes after sundown, giving an extra hour and 22 minutes to observe the comet).

In a few more weeks it will be circumpolar in most parts of the U.S. and then it will probably be more easily detected (with optical aid) in the morning rather than in the evening. In fact, it may already be more easily visible in the morning for some observers depending upon their latitude.

Those of us in the southern parts of the U.S. kind of got cheated with this comet, except when it was in conjunction with the crescent moon on March 12 (which may have been its most spectacular moment, so if you missed it around that time it may now be too late for southernly observers).

#627 swalker

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:27 AM

The comet may by up in the morning hours, but the evening is now Moon-free, offering better views, at least from 42.9 north.

#628 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:49 PM

What's the estimated magnitude of the comet right now? Are there any finder maps to see it in the morning?

#629 Scott Beith

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:48 PM

I definitely need a morning map. :)

#630 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:56 AM

Scott, How about this below?

http://www.nightskyi...c2011l4_map.png

Hope that helps!

Cheers,

#631 Phillip Creed

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:28 AM

I saw this little fuzzball last night from Wilmot, OH. Using a set of 15x70 binoculars, I estimated the comet's integrated magnitude to be around 4.0, with a 1.0-deg tail in PA 020.

Last night was easily the best view I've had of the comet, and was nice payoff after a month of absolutely *HORRIBLE* weather.

Clear Skies,
Phil

#632 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 01:13 PM

There was an unexpected early clearing yesterday evening so I gave Comet PanSTARRS another go from a spot not too far away from my home with good horizons and reasonably dark skies but wasn't able to dig it or M31 out of the murk with my 15x70 binocular.

There's a nice shot of the comet and M31 at http://spaceweather....upload_id=79964

What was the best estimate of the peak brightness of the comet? The figures that I've seen vary.

Dave Mitsky

#633 james7ca

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 04:52 PM

What's the estimated magnitude of the comet right now? Are there any finder maps to see it in the morning?

According to the SkySafari app, the comet's magnitude (estimate) is currently +4.2.

In any case, you really don't need a different map for the morning because it will still appear in the same area of your sky as in the evening (in relation to the stars, or in RA/DEC). What you need is a program that will show you how high above YOUR horizon that location will be at various times throughout the day (and where the sun will be and how far below the horizon the sun will be at that same time). Further, you need to be aware of the moon, since for the next week or so that could also interfere with your sky darkness.

Right now from my location in southern California comet PanSTARRS rises at about 4:58AM and sets at 8:42PM PDT. In the morning it is 17 degrees and 43 minutes above the northeastern horizon when the sun rises. In the evening it is only 14 degrees and 47 minutes in altitude when the sun sets.

Also, over the next several days it will very close to the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and for those in the far north where the skies should be fairly dark that could make for one very spectacular photo/view.

For example on Monday morning (PDT) PanSTARRS will be only 4.5 degrees from the galaxy (both could be framed in a pair of binoculars). On Tuesday morning they will be separated by only 3.5 degrees. On Friday morning, April 5 PanSTARRS will appear directly above M31 and the separation will be 2.7 degrees (approximately, and could vary slightly depending upon your latitude).

On that Friday, the moon will be 25 days old (about five days from new) and it shouldn't interfere too much with the view (it will also be about 70 degrees to the south of the comet). From my location astronomical dawn begins (or ends?) at 5:06AM PDT when the comet will only be 9.5 degrees above the horizon. It should be visible (with a clear horizon) but I don't know how well it would photograph at that low elevation (the Andromeda Galaxy will be even lower, below 7 degrees). However, in Seattle Washington the comet will be 15 degrees above the horizon when astronomical dawn begins. The comet's estimated visual magnitude on April 5 with be +5.0 (not that bright, but the comet's tail could be quite long).

Of course, this same conjunction with the Andromeda Galaxy can be viewed in the evening and for many observers that might even be a better arrangement (depending upon your location and willingness for sleep).

#634 Doc Willie

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 06:46 AM

FINALLY !!!

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) Observation Report ON 30 Mar 2013 Joe Macagne and I went to the west side of Minnewaska
on the upper pull-off of Routes 44/55. Another observer with a camera set up was already there when we arrived. I was a clear night, the first in about three weeks, with just a trace of horizontal clouds below 5 degrees in the
southwest. I rated the sky at the time of siting about Mag 4, Joe, with much better eyes than mine ratedi it better than 5, using the Globe at Night charts for Leo. SQL reading was 21.01 at the zenith.

We spotted the comet at about 20:30 EDST. M31 was visible at about the same time. The comet was located below (west) and slightly to the left (south) of M31, less than two fields in my 15x70 binoculars. It was brighter than M31, with a prominent head, and a tail extending eastward about 1/2 a binoc field. the tail fanned out almost 45 degrees, the northern edge more sharply demarcated.

I did a sketch, which is here:

http://groups.yahoo....433540893/vi...

Overall, this was more impressive than I had expected. It will not make the Yee Catalog of Most Consistently Disappointing Visual Astronomical Objects.

#635 Mike C

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 06:59 AM

After over 2 weeks of being thwarted by the comet's poor elevation and bad weather locally, last night I finally saw my 59th comet, C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)!

I'd been taking landscape photos in a disappointingly cloud west Cornwall, but on returning home to mid Cornwall the sky was clear. For once, visibility around the horizon was promising. I started to search as soon as I could see the stars of Cassiopeia, and used these to star-hop to Andromeda and the location of PanSTARRS.

The comet is still not in a location I can reach with a backyard 'scope, but I took the following (cropped) image with a 100mm lens on a fixed tripod. The pic won't win any prizes, but I'm pleased to have seen PanSTARRS at last, and look forward to imaging it with the telescope in the morning once the moon has waned.

Regards,

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#636 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 07:40 AM

I did a sketch, which is here:

http://groups.yahoo....433540893/vi...

Overall, this was more impressive than I had expected. It will not make the Yee Catalog of Most Consistently Disappointing Visual Astronomical Objects.


Can't see the sketch.....Says you have to be a member of the group to see it.

#637 Doc Willie

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:35 AM

I did a sketch, which is here:

Can't see the sketch.....Says you have to be a member of the group to see it.

Let's try this:
Posted Image

#638 Erik Bakker

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:41 AM

Mike,

Congrats on observing your 59th comet, quite an accomplishment.

PANSTARRS is now fading. Cought it yesterday under very good conditions with my 10x32. Nice starlike nucleus and a bit over 1/2 degree long dust tail. Twilight is changing rapidly these last 2 weeks, as is the comets brightness. Quite a bit more difficult to observe than just a few nights ago, although part of that will be the difference between 10x32 and 7x42 mm binos. Did find the comet still quite a bit brighter than M31. But M31 is starting to struggle with twilight too.

#639 Geoff40N

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:16 AM

I am in south-central NH. Was out last night, the comet was not as bright as it has been in the past couple of weeks. It was a clear night and based on last night I'd say it had dimmed considerably just in the last few days. Below is a photo taken just 5 nights ago. Nikon D200, 300mm f4, 2 second exposure time. High noise reduction turned on, final adjustments madewith Lightroom.

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#640 SabiaJD

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 11:07 AM

Good clear skies last night. Setup my TV 101 in the field of TGC Observatory to see comet PANSTARRS and attempt some hand held afocal imaging with a digital camera. Difficult but I did get two that were acceptable.
Not as good as my first picture of the comet due to the length of exposure time. ( see them in same gallery ).

http://lackawannaast...ohn-sabia/c2...

Using 10 x 50 binoculars the comet sported a 30 minute of arc tail that trailed away. Put it at 3.6 magnitude using the Bobrovnikoff method at 0:40 UT.
Used the maps found on this web site for the comparison stars.

http://www.shopplaza...mets/comets.htm
(a good source I've been using for some time now)

A yellowish coma was clearly notice in the TV101 using a 38 mm Burgess 2 inch eyepiece, around 12X magnification.

#641 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 12:21 PM

There's a fantastic shot of the comet and M31 posted at http://spaceweather....upload_id=80140

Be sure to enlarge the image.

Dave Mitsky

#642 rdandrea

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 01:48 PM

Yeah that's a great shot, Dave. It's how I found the rapidly dimming comet last night in the murk and light pollution. I just found M31 in my 7x50s and looked one field down and a little to the left.

#643 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:32 AM

I went to the Naylor Observatory on Monday evening to try to catch a glimpse of Comet PanSTARRS once again. I searched the region to the southwest of M31, which I could just barely see, with 8x42 and 15x70 binoculars and a 5" f/5 achromat but was unable to sweep up the comet. The sky was not terribly transparent but mostly clear, except for some low clouds in the northwest, which was the area where the comet was, of course.

I was also unsuccessful in detecting the faint supernova SN 2013am in M65 through the 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at magnifications as high as 462x, although I didn't really expect to be able to see it.

Dave Mitsky

#644 Tonk

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 03:58 AM

Drove into the Yorkshire Dales last night. Snow still 4 foot deep at side of roads in the gullies, now melting on exposed ground (worst snow in March since 1947 in parts of UK). The comet was picked up in binns at the tail end of twilight and remained an easy object until orographic clouds forming in lee of Great Whernside intruded. Photography only partially succesful due to said clouds (grrr)

#645 BrooksObs

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:06 AM

I offer below my final evaluation of Comet PanSTARRS' brightness behavior to date before going off to write-up my retrospective about this comet for a future issue of Sky & Telescope. It is noticed, somewhat even to my surprise, that comet 2011 L4 has brightened and subsequently faded exactly along the lines of the statistical "average" for all observed long period comets. This seemingly normal aspect comes in spite of PanSTARRS’ excessive dust to gas ratio that has resulted in it displaying a rather extraordinarily broad, short, tail in recent weeks. Still, overall it has proven a distinct disappointment, at least in my eyes. In fact, its general appearance has been rather like seeing a major comet in miniature and only a shadow of what had earlier been hoped for.

Posted Image

BrooksObs

#646 nytecam

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:07 AM

Drove into the Yorkshire Dales last night. Snow still 4 foot deep at side of roads in the gullies, now melting on exposed ground (worst snow in March since 1947 in parts of UK). The comet was picked up in binns at the tail end of twilight and remained an easy object until orographic clouds forming in lee of Great Whernside intruded. Photography only partially succesful due to said clouds (grrr)

Tony - you're a great comet chaser :bow:. Shot below from backyard obsy last night after dusk through neighbour's sparce birch-tree branches - stars to mag 14 recorded via my M12+SX Lodestar. The comet passes west of M31 soon for you Y-dangle guys :lol:

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#647 Carol L

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 05:31 PM

I saw the comet again last night (April 1) at about 8:20 CDT from behind the house using 11x70 binoculars. Got M31, too - neither was too difficult to see once they were located. Checking the weather, it looks like tonight and Thursday might be the last chances for about a week.

#648 Tonk

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 07:13 PM

Tony - you're a great comet chaser


Errr oh dear - cover blown - just got back from a trip out to the high ground in the Forest of Bowland - and this time I got 2 hours worth of images. Just getting 2 hours sleep before heading off to the Eastern Yorkshire Dales (Pately Moor) to get it for its morning apparation - clouds willing.

Totting up - thats 1200 miles traveled so far and observed comet on 5 occassions out of 11 trips - imaged on 4

#649 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 08:34 PM

I'm at the Naylor Observatory at the moment. Well, I struck out again. The sky was clear just about everywhere except where M31 and the comet were positioned. I wasn't even able to catch a glimpse of M31 tonight. I could see M34 well enough through my 15x70s and the 17" classical Cassegrain, however.

Dave Mitsky

#650 stevecoe

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:10 PM

Howdy all;

I am at Tom and Jeannie Clark's house about 30 miles north of Deming, New Mexico. A nice night, the wind finally stopped blowing dust around and I got a chance to see and image the comet. I picked it up in 8X42 binoculars and from this latitude there is a short window in which to view comet Panstarrs. It is about one degree in size with the small binoculars. This image is with a 135mm lens at f/4 and a 12 second exposure.

Clear skies;
Steve Coe

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