Mar 4, 2013

Bright Comet Pan-STARRS seen in skies over Australia

Of course Pan is the woodlands god of fear, music and fertility. First comes Pan (fear) and then ISON, referring to someone's son perhaps? The long predicted return of Apollo comes to mind. 2013 is being called the year of the comets. All cultures considered visible comets in the sky as signs of major changes in kings and kingdoms, and they were usually heralds of some disaster.


March 4, 2013SPACEBright Comet Pan-Starrs (C/2011 L4) is now inside the orbit of Mercury, brightening as it plunges toward the sun. Observers in the southern hemisphere report say they can see Pan-STARRS with the unaided eye in the evening sunset sky.
Carl Gruber photographed the comet on March 2nd over the city lights of Melbourne, Australia: “Despite bad light and smog pollution, the comet’s nucleus was clearly visible to the naked eye as well as a small part of the tail,” says Gruber.
Light curves show the comet is approaching 2nd magnitude, about as bright as the stars of the Big Dipper. Several important dates are approaching. On March 5th, Comet Pan-STARRS makes its closest approach to Earth (1.09 AU), followed on March 10th by its closest approach to the sun (0.3 AU). As Comet Pan-STARRS passes the sun, solar glare will make it difficult to see even as the nucleus vaporizes and brightens. By March 12th and 13th, the comet will reappear in the sunset skies of the northern hemisphere not far from the crescent Moon. –Space Weather