Hail To The Chief: Stargazers! Do I Have A Treat For You!

James Zahara Weather Blog

I always admired the skies ever since I can remember..not just during the day but even at night.  Second to my love of weather, stargazing was and always has been a joy to me especially if the night was scattered with meteor showers.  But when it came to comet gazing..WOW, now that was special.  Well, star enthusiasts, you’re in for a special treat in our skies this month as a once-in-a-lifetime comet will be seen..possibly with the naked eye!

Comet Pan-STARRS will be passing about 100 million miles from Earth where astronomers say it could become as bright as some stars.  The comet will come into view in the Northern Hemisphere starting today and will move northward each evening for the rest of the this month.  Experts say the best dates to look for the comet could be March 12th and 13th when the comet emerges not too far from the crescent moon (weather permitting).

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Experts say to look for Pan-STARRS in the low horizon just after sunset in the western sky.

Check out this quick YouTube video of its background.

Comets are typically brightest and most active around the time they are closest to the sun when solar heating vaporizes the ice and dust from the comet’s outer crust.  Not only will the comet quickly brighten but it should also develop the long classic comet dust tail that we see from the picture below.  I grabbed this shot from a stargazer from Australia of the same comet.

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Another comet will be captivating backyard astronomers later on this year as well.  Some are saying that this will be a ‘Dream Comet’.  Comet ISON is predicted to be shining as brightly as a full Moon in broad daylight. This starts in the beginning of December as it passes through the atmosphere of the sun.  Can’t wait!!!!

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