First great comet of 2013
ONU’s Astronomy Club will host a public viewing of a comet named C/2011 L4 Pan-STARRS. The event begins at 7:45 p.m., Friday, March 15, in order to spot the comet before it sets around 9:11 p.m. Observation of other objects like the crescent moon and Jupiter will continue until 9:45 p.m.
Comet Pan-STARRS was discovered in June 2011 by a team workingwith the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System. It passed closest to the sun on March 10, and was closest to the Earth (100 million miles) on March 5. However, it is just becoming visible for our latitude this week and will only remain visible to the naked eye for a few weeks. It appears nearly due West on the horizon just after sunset. It is a bright comet with a long tail but can still be difficult to find in the twilight and clouds. The Astronomy Club will provide binoculars and telescopes to see it with better detail. Pan-STARRS will never return to the inner solar system, but another comet, ISON, is predicted to be even brighter in December 2013.
This event is free and open to the public. Dress warmly. The event will be canceled in the event of cloudy weather. Check the web site on the afternoon before the event for cancellations.