Tag Archives: C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)

We Saw C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) Tonight From Alton, New Hampshire, Through Binoculars, Thanks To Heads Up From Dave Eagle.

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Anura Guruge


++++ Search CATEGORY ‘Astronomy’ on sidebar for other posts >>>>>>

>> Update on 2013 ISON & Pan-STARRS … — Apr. 6, 2013.
>> Last ‘Pan-STARRS’ post — Mar. 17, 2013.


C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) fron New Hampshire

C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) seen with binoculars from Alton, NH, on April 6, 2013. Click to ENLARGE.


Dave Eagle, in an e-mail this morning, gave me a heads up that C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) is still visible (though I am not sure whether it is still naked eye). Per Dave, and he would know, it will be close to ‘M31‘ — i.e., Andromeda.

It was more of less where I told you to look this morning. I used those same instructions, which were: For us in New England, that would be low in the Northwest sky around 8 pm. I think trees will be the problem for us. From what I can see from my trusty Sky Charts our best bet would be to start with The Pleiades (the easy to spot ‘Seven Sisters’/Subaru cluster). They (i.e., The Pleiades) should be close to West around 8 pm. Then start scanning North from there. With luck you should be able to spot the ‘W’, the upside down crown, of Cassiopeia. M31, and hence the comet, should be below Cassiopeia.

Beautiful night for admiring the firmament. Not a cloud in the sky. The cold air making everything bright and crisp. We started off on a cleared, abandoned housing estate site close by but it didn’t have enough elevation. So headed up Prospect Mountain Road to the very top. Got to see two delightful porcupines frolicking on the road. Yes, we stopped and watched. Then we turned into Ridge Road at the end of Prospect and parked right at the zenith, off the road. Now we were above the tree line. We used Google Sky Map on a Google Nexus 7 Android 7″ pad to fine tune our direction. Great App. Very easy to use. bang, Right there. Deanna could hold it up and match Cassiopeia with what is in the sky. That helps.

I started scanning with a pair of old, very old, Carl Zeiss, 10x50W binoculars. Took me a while. But then I saw it and I said: ‘WOW’! No escaping it. When you see it you know that that is different. It was rewarding. I saw Hale-Bopp, C/1995 O1, most nights for nearly a month in 1997. That made an indelible impression. I also saw Kohoutek, C/1973 E1, faintly, in 1974, after spending days clambering up hillocks in The Mumbles, near Swansea, Wales, with like minded fellow students from the University, spread over 4 months. That was dedication. C/2011 L4 was better.

Deanna thinks it is the first comet she has seen. She is not sure whether she saw Hale-Bopp. She was thrilled. She too went: ‘Wow’. It was, of course, a first for Devanee. Teischan wasn’t interested.

So this was a nice, welcome warm-up for C/2012 S1 (ISON) later this year. That should, with luck, be more spectacular. 


Where C/2011 L4 was in the heavens when we saw it. It was pretty far away. Click image to access NASA JPL prbital data.

Where C/2011 L4 was in the heavens when we saw it. It was pretty far away. Click image to access NASA JPL prbital data.


Update On Comets C/2012 S1 (ISON) & C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS)

Dec2013x125

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by
Anura Guruge


++++ Search CATEGORY ‘Astronomy’ on sidebar for other posts >>>>>>

>> Last ‘Pan-STARRS’ post — Mar. 17, 2013.


Click to access NASA video and article.

Click to access NASA video and article.


C/2012 S1 (ISON), the ‘2013 holiday’ comet that will be at its peak in November – December 2013, could end up being the great comet of 2013‘, ‘the comet of the century‘ or even the ‘once in a civilization comet‘.

But, comets love to tease and beguile. So this is still a tad to early to get any hopes up. The comet having passed Jupiter’s orbital path around March 17, 2013 is 4.22 AU [392.3 million miles] away. If it successfully weathers its perihelion around the Sun on Thursday, November 28, 2013 [yes, Thanksgiving] , it will be an order of magnitude closer as it rushes by Earth at a 39.9 million mile separation on Boxing Day, 2013. There is a 20% chance that it might get fragmented or zapped as it is classed a ‘sungrazer‘ since it will skim by just 723,683 miles from the Sun’s surface.

From NASA JPL. Click to access. You will need working Java. It is at the top. Click on [show orbital diagram]. Good test to see if you indeed have the latest & greatest Java on your computer. I have Java just for this application.

From NASA JPL. Click to access. You will need working Java. It is at the top. Click on [show orbital diagram]. Good test to see if you indeed have the latest & greatest Java on your computer. I have Java just for this application.


Dave Eagle, in an e-mail this morning, gave me a heads up that C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) is still visible (though I am not sure whether it is still naked eye).

Per Dave, and he would know, it will be close to ‘M31‘ — i.e., Andromeda. So, for us in New England, that would be low in the Northwest sky around 8 pm. I think trees will be the problem for us. From what I can see from my trust Sky Charts our best bet would be to start with The Pleiades (the easy to spot ‘Seven Sisters’/Subaru cluster). That should be close to West around 8 pm. Then start scanning North from there. With luck you should be able to spot the ‘W’, the upside down crown, of Cassiopeia. M31, and hence the comet, should be below Cassiopeia.

Last night we had a perfect viewing night, if not for the bitter cold wind. Tonight might be better. So, lets try and get out there and have a look. Binoculars might help.

Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS): Where To Spot In The Northern Skies.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
1/ Naked Eye Visible … — Mar. 6, 2013.
2/ Comet First of two BIG 2013 comets: C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS)
>>Mar. 5, 2013.


Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) will be visible to Northern hemisphere observers near the cresent moon on March 12th. This ‘map’ provided by NASA. Click to ENLARGE.


Another image from NASA, but this seen down-under in Australia. Click to ENLARGE. To see it as they saw it in Oz, you will have to stand on your head or turn your monitor upside down.


Another image, again down under. Now you know the drill. Click to ENLARGE. Somehow rotate the image to get the Australian view.


Perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) is today, March 10, 2013. As it turns around the Sun it also crosses the celestial equator, moving from the southern skies to the ones that really count — the northern skies, i.e., US. People are already seeing it — those close to the equator, such as my brethren in Sri Lanka getting early dibs.

As I have said before March 12 & 13 should be particularly good since the crescent Moon will provide a good reference. Try and get to a high point, like a small hill, so that you can see over trees — if you live in the country.

Enjoy. I will try and keep you posted.

Here are two useful links: NASA & Space Weather.

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

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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.

Bright Naked Eye Comet, The 1st Of the Two Biggies Of 2013, Will Soon Be Visible Over NH. Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS).

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Anura Guruge



Over Argentina on March 2. Image courtesy Luis Argerich — with Thanks.


Compute orbital diagram from NASA/JPL. Click to ENLARGE.

Compute orbital diagram from NASA/JPL. Click to ENLARGE.


We won’t see it in the Northern Hemisphere until next week. It would, of course, be better with binoculars or a small telescope. It, alas, is not going to be as bright as initially hoped.

But, this is only the teaser, the support act, for the main cometary event of the year — possibly the century. And I am here talking as one that saw and remembered C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) in 1997.

The BIG ONE will be around Thanksgiving/Hanukkah 2013. C/2012 S1 (ISON). That will be a show. Mark my word.


Hale-Bopp c. 1997.