C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Celestial visitors from the edge of the Solar System.
Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » January 7th, 2013, 4:20 pm

Comet PanSTARRS was discovered in June 2011 by the PanSTARRS Panoramic Survey. Current predictions are for a possibly nice (albeit low) apparation on the Baton Rouge horizon. C/2011 L4 should start turning northward during the first week of February and gain a rather prominent tail about the second week in March. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory predicts the best showing for the Northern Hemisphere will be from 8 March to 12 March, while Sky & Telescope says it might be 12 March to 18 March.

The PanSTARRS Panoramic Survey: http://pan-starrs.ifa.hawaii.edu/public/
January finder chart (although it's not visible from Baton Rouge): http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/comets/2011_L4.pdf

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » January 21st, 2013, 5:09 pm

Below are the times during which PanSTARRS will be in the Baton Rouge twilight--the best times possible to attempt viewing, along with starting altitude for each evening. Until the 8th the comet will be in Cetus; on the 9th and 10th it will be in Pisces; on the 11th and 12th, again in Cetus; from the 13th to 21st again in Pisces; and from the 22nd to the 25th it's in Andromeda. It will gradually head from the southwest to the northwest.

6 March = 5:50pm to 6:35pm (starting at 11˚)
7 March = 5:50pm to 6:40pm (starting at 12˚)
8 March = 5:50pm to 6:50pm (starting at 14˚)
9 March = 5:50pm to 6:55pm (starting at 15˚)
Times above are CST; times below are CDT.
10 March = 6:50pm to 8pm (starting at 17˚)
11 March = 6:50pm to 8:05pm (starting at 17˚)
12 March = 6:55pm to 8:10pm (starting at 18˚)
13 March = 7pm to 8:15pm (starting at 17˚)
14 March = 7pm to 8:15pm (starting at 18˚)
15 March = 7:05pm to 8:20pm (starting at 18˚)
16 March = 7:10pm to 8:20pm (starting at 17˚)
17 March = 7:15pm to 8:25pm (starting at 16˚)
18 March = 7:15pm to 8:25pm (starting at 16˚)
19 March = 7:20pm to 8:25pm (starting at 15˚)
20 March = 7:25pm to 8:25pm (starting at 14˚)
21 March = 7:30pm to 8:30pm (starting at 13˚)
22 March = 7:35pm to 8:30pm (starting at 12˚)
23 March = 7:35pm to 8:30pm (starting at 12˚)
24 March = 7:40pm to 8:30pm (starting at 11˚)
25 March = 7:45pm to 8:30pm (starting at 10˚)

I know one hour at a stretch is not the least stressful way to search for a comet, and anyone searching will need a very low horizon. Additionally, the predicted maximum magnitude may be revised downward from 0 to 1 or 2.

More information:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/skytel/b ... 65152.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » February 20th, 2013, 7:14 pm

PANSTARRS developed a gas tail on or around the 12th. Michael Mattiazzo, observing it from the Southern Hemisphere, says it looks good at 25x and that it cannot be fainter than magnitude 5.0 at this time.

Attempted viewing of PANSTARRS will take place on 8, 9, 11, 18 and 19 March at the Burbank Soccer Complex. The public is invited to attend.

31 January Astronomy article:
http://www.astronomy.com/~/link.aspx?_i ... C67AA&_z=z

PANSTARRS predictions from Seiichi Yoshida:
http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html

Historical background of C/2011 L4:
http://www.cometography.com/lcomets/2011l4.html

Finder chart:
http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/comets/2011_L4.pdf

Original press release from the University of Hawaii announcing the discovery:
http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/press-re ... tJune2011/

About the Burbank Soccer Complex:
http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/park/detail/25

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 5th, 2013, 4:45 pm

PanSTARRS may be brightening. On 1 March Mariano Ribas stated he saw PanSTARRS as a yellowish object with a one-degree-long tail. Not bad!

It may brighten to 2.3--maybe 1.9. I will attempt this evening and tomorrow evening to pick up PanSTARRS with a mounted 10x binocular and with an AstroScan using a 32mm eyepiece (in other words, about 14x).

S&T updates:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/panstarrs

Some information from Astronomy, including a finder chart useful through the end of April:
http://www.astronomy.com/en/Events/Year ... tarrs.aspx

Some wonderful images have been sent to Tony Phillips:
http://spaceweather.com/gallery/index.php?title=comet

Take a look at today's APOD:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130305.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 7th, 2013, 1:58 pm

The northern locations where Comet PanSTARRS can be seen are increasing every day. Last night astronomers in Los Angeles attempted viewing PanSTARRS, since at latitude 34°N it was 3° above the horizon twenty minutes after sunset. I don't know what the results of the search are.

Terry Lovejoy of Australia is estimating a magnitude of 1.5 as of the morning of 6 March Australia time; I don't know if anyone else is agreeing with that estimate. PanSTARRS is moving north by 3° per day and has just about halted its apparent motion toward the Sun.

Remember, attempted viewings for the public start tomorrow at the Burbank Soccer Complex! The public evenings now total ten--the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st of March.

A picture taken this morning from Brazil may give a idea of what we might see here in Baton Rouge. Notice the streetlamp in the foreground...
http://spaceweather.com/gallery/indiv_u ... j1dtbnjki7

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 8th, 2013, 3:57 pm

Below are tonight's coordinates for PanSTARRS, as seen from the Burbank Soccer Complex.

8 March
5:50pm = az 252˚ / alt 14˚
5:55pm = az 252˚ / alt 13˚
6pm = az 253˚ / alt 12˚
6:05pm = az 254˚ / alt 11˚
6:10pm = az 255˚ / alt 10˚
6:15pm = az 255˚ / alt 9˚
6:20pm = az 256˚ / alt 8˚
6:25pm = az 257˚ / alt 7˚
6:30pm = az 257˚ / alt 6˚
6:35pm = az 258˚ / alt 5˚
6:40pm = az 259˚ / alt 4˚
6:45pm = az 259˚ / alt 2˚

Jim Brandt of Homestead, Florida spotted PANSTARRS at 7pm EST last night with an 80mm refractor at 11x.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 9th, 2013, 4:48 pm

Due to poor weather conditions, this evening's attempted viewing of the comet has been cancelled. Below are PANSTARRS' coordinates for the next two evenings as seen from the Burbank Soccer Complex.

10 March
6:50pm = az 256˚ / alt 17˚
6:55pm = az 257˚ / alt 16˚
7pm = az 258˚ / alt 15˚
7:05pm = az 258˚ / alt 14˚
7:10pm = az 259˚ / alt 13˚
7:15pm = az 260˚ / alt 11˚
7:20pm = az 261˚ / alt 10˚
7:25pm = az 261˚ / alt 9˚
7:30pm = az 262˚ / alt 8˚
7:35pm = az 263˚ / alt 7˚
7:40pm = az 263˚ / alt 6˚
7:45pm = az 264˚ / alt 5˚
7:50pm = az 264˚ / alt 4˚
7:55pm = az 265˚ / alt 3˚
8pm = az 266˚ / alt 2˚
8:05pm = az 266˚ / alt 1˚

11 March
6:50pm = az 259˚ / alt 18˚
6:55pm = az 260˚ / alt 17˚
7pm = az 260˚ / alt 16˚
7:05pm = az 261˚ / alt 15˚
7:10pm = az 262˚ / alt 14˚
7:15pm = az 262˚ / alt 13˚
7:20pm = az 263˚ / alt 11˚
7:25pm = az 264˚ / alt 10˚
7:30pm = az 264˚ / alt 9˚
7:35pm = az 265˚ / alt 8˚
7:40pm = az 266˚ / alt 7˚
7:45pm = az 266˚ / alt 6˚
7:50pm = az 267˚ / alt 5˚
7:55pm = az 268˚ / alt 4˚
8pm = az 268˚ / alt 3˚

In case anyone is curious, none of us spotted a comet candidate in the low western sky yesterday evening; there were just too many clouds in the vincinity.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 10th, 2013, 12:35 pm

Due to the NOAA prediction of 80% cloud cover and 40% chance of rain, the attempt to view PANSTARRS at Burbank has been cancelled for this evening. A shame, since this makes two evenings in a row. However, Monday and Tuesday looks better.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4661
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Christopher K. » March 11th, 2013, 1:03 pm

An article posted today at Sky & Telescope from Alan MacRobert states the best nights will be 12 March to 18 March, and the best times will be thirty to forty-five minutes after sunset. We will be at Burbank tonight and tomorrow night. The article also suggests PanSTARRS will be half as bright on the 20th as it will be on the 13th.

The article:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observin ... 88441.html

Remember the paper-thin Moon will be about four degrees to the right of PanSTARRS tomorrow night. On Wednesday night, the thicker (but still thin) Moon will be about ten degrees above it.

Dudley51
Posts: 2
Joined: March 11th, 2013, 8:30 pm

Re: C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS)

Post by Dudley51 » March 11th, 2013, 8:52 pm

On 11 March 2013, K. Harrington spotted C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) at 19:50 CDT from the Mississippi River levee in downtown Baton Rouge, a few yards north of the USS Kidd. She used a small pair of 8x binoculars to spot it. On her guidance, I saw the comet about 10 seconds later using a 10x monocular.
We could both see the tail. We lost sight of it about 20:01. Neither of us was able to see it with the naked eye, which we did not expect given the lights on the west bank of the river. - Dudley Fish

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