Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) Should Be Naked Eye Visible March 12 & 13, 2013, At Sunset, Near Crescent Moon.


Anura Guruge

C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) over South Africa — last week.

C/2011 L4 as indicated by its official designation was discovered in 2011, on June 6, 2011.

It was discovered ‘robotically’ [i.e., by automated, computer software scanning digital images] by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) initiative whose telescopes are located at the summit of Mount Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii. Hence the parenthetical name ‘Pan-STARRS’.

Calling it Comet Pan-STARRS is wrong and meaningless!

The Pan-STARRS program, an automated survey of the sky, discovers comets at a rapid rate. There are many, many comets with the parenthetical name ‘Pan-STARRS’ — this name denoting the discoverer. It is only real and unique name is C/2011 L4. Comet’s can only be named after a person involved with its discovery (or the calculation of its orbit). Comets such as this one, discovered by computer software, are not assigned a name of a person. And NO, you cannot buy its name.

Alas, it won’t be very bright. So, provided we have clear skies, next Tuesday and Wednesday, close to the Moon — around sunset.

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