(note from moderator: Below is a brief recap. Please visit the link above for more details.)
The Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii discovered this comet in June 2011. Since comets carry the names of their discoverers, it has been designated C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS).
Starting about March 7, 2013.
PANSTARRS will appear above the western horizon after sunset for Northern Hemisphere viewers.
The comet passes closest to the sun – as close as our sun’s innermost planet, Mercury – at 0.30 AU – or about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers).
Around March 12 and 13.
Moonlight will interfere with the darkness of the night sky, but there should be some wonderful photo opportunities as the young moon returns to the same part of the sky as the comet.
By March 12, the comet will be considerably higher in the sky and will set around 75 minutes after sun.
Throughout March 2013.
The comet could be visible in the Northern Hemisphere evening sky low in the west after sunset.
At this time, the comet might have a bright dust tail, and perhaps visible to the unaided eye or binoculars.
No matter how bright it gets in March, the comet will surely fade as April arrives, as it moves away from the sun and back out into the depths of space.
Just remember that comets are notoriously difficult to predict. As comet-hunter David Levy once famously said:
Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.