How to Spot Comet PanSTARRS in Twilight

(This is written for the world's mid-northern latitudes, including the U.S., Canada, Europe except the north, China, Korea, and Japan.)

Look due west around the middle of twilight on a nice clear evening from about March 12–18, and with a little luck you can spot a one-time-only visitor newly arrived from very deep space. But it's tiny and faint, and you should bring binoculars if you have them.

Look for Comet PanSTARRS low in the west in twilight. Don't expect it to appear nearly as obvious as on this chart. Bring binoculars.

This chart is drawn for viewers in the world's mid-northern latitudes (U.S., Canada, Europe except far north, China, Korea, Japan). Feel free to reprint it, but include the credit line Sky & Telescope magazine, and online use must include a link to SkyandTelescope.com . Click for high quality version.


Skywatchers have been anticipating Comet PanSTARRS for nearly two years. It has just passed its closest by Earth and is now being lit its most brilliantly by the Sun. In the past couple weeks it decorated the twilight sky for folks in the Southern Hemisphere. Now people in the world's mid-northern latitudes have their turn.

"Our good views begin around March 12th and 13th, when the crescent Moon is there to point the way," says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. "Before that the comet is too near the horizon. It will start fading later this week, so if the sky is clear, don't miss your chance." By March 20th it may be only half as bright as it was seven days before.

On March 2nd, Comet PanSTARRS was high in the twilight over Montevideo, Uruguay, when Ruben Perez de Paula took this 20-second exposure. Contrast is enhanced. He called it "barely visible to the naked eye, but a very clear and beautiful sight with binoculars." Click for larger view. Here are lots of recent pix.

The best time to look is now roughly 40 or 50 minutes after your local sunset. Your window of viewing time comes when twilight fades enough for the comet to show through at least a bit, but before it sinks too low and sets.

On Tuesday March 12th, look for the very thin crescent Moon very low due west. The comet will be just to its left, by two or three finger-widths at arm's length.

On Wednesday March 13th, you'll see a less-thin crescent Moon higher up. Look below it by about the width of your fist at arm's length.

On Thursday the 14th, look two fists below the Moon and perhaps a little to the right.

After that, the comet will gradually move to the right from one evening to the next as it begins to fade.

Look for a tiny, slightly fuzzy "star" with a short, faint upward tail. Binoculars will give a much better view. And if you have a telescope, now's the time to bring it out!

See our PanSTARRS Updates page for the latest.

Have you seen Comet PanSTARRS? Let us know in the comments below — and share your photos with us in our photo gallery!

A Once-Only Visitor

The comet is known to astronomers as C/2011 L4 to distinguish it from others named PanSTARRS. The automated Pan-STARRS sky survey in Hawaii discovered it in June 2011 as a tiny, distant speck heading in from the far reaches of the solar system. Even though it's passing closest to us around now, it's still a distant 105 million miles or so from Earth, rather far even by comet standards. That's why it looks small.

"What we're seeing," says Sky & Telescope editor in chief Robert Naeye, "is mostly a plume of dust, lit by sunlight, that's spraying from the comet's tiny little nucleus. The nucleus is an icy frozen dirtball just a few miles across. As it comes near the Sun, its surface heats up and some of the ice evaporates, letting loose dust and debris."

Comet PanSTARRS's orbit is bringing it by the Sun for the first time, after it has spent billions of years in the cold of deep space. In the coming months it will fly back out again, never to return.

This is the first of two noteworthy comets expected in 2013. The other is Comet ISON, which may put on a brighter display in the dawn sky of early December; see more about it at SkyandTelescope.com/ison.

125 thoughts on “How to Spot Comet PanSTARRS in Twilight

  1. Jim Baughman

    ‘Twas a flop here tonight in Beverly Hills California, although we had a fairly decent view of the horizon. We watched from 6:20 (25 minutes after sunset) until 6:40 and couldn’t see anything even in binoculars despite crystal clear skies.

    We’ll try again tomorrow and Monday and Tuesday too.

  2. John Sheff

    No luck here in Cambridge. The skies were perfectly clear down to the horizon, I had a great view to the west, and I used a planetarium program that pinpointed its (supposed) location above landmarks on my horizon. I scanned the sky with binoculars from sunset to comet-set, but I didn’t spot it. I think the sky is too bright where the comet is. I’m hoping we have some good weather later this week so I can try again when it will be higher above the horizon.

  3. Gordon Brown

    Rains recently cleared the air here in San Diego, and Mother Nature accommodated with a clear western sky. Used 7X50s and my trusty naked eyes with no results. Guess I will try again. . .

  4. Scott Bulkley

    Despite clear skies here in the High Desert of California, a complete unobstructed view of the western horizon, and observing from sunset until comet-set, there was no indication of the comet. Used my best binoculars. Will try again each night this week.

  5. Mak

    Clear skies but no dice here in Sprague River Oregon…naked eye…from several locations around the valley…one mountain and long ridge might be in the way due to the low angle of the comet, so will try again tomorrow night from a different location and on into california if needed.

    I’m an on again-off again astronomy buff for 70 plus years and feel fortunate to live in this day and age.

  6. Chris

    Nothing seen tonight from the Central Oregon Coast even with fairly clear skies up to the horizon line from well before and well past the best viewing time via stellarium will keep looking up!

  7. Haldun I. Menali

    Tried to see C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) from the grounds of Granite Links Golf Club at Quarry Hills in Quincy, MA (just a short drive from our condo) with my wife Gamze. Used 15×70 binocs, Orion ST80mm and naked eye with no comet in sight. We had a complete unobstructed view of the western horizon from South to North. Although the sky was crystal clear everywhere else, there was a thick layer of clouds all over the horizon up to 8 degrees that might have blocked our view. There were a few other stargazers who had no luck either. Will try again whenever the weather permits and the comet climbs to a slightly higher altitude in the next two weeks.

  8. Charles - Gibraltar

    Nothing from Gibraltar apart from getting a cold, no comet on the 8th March. Stay on the look-out 30min before sun fall and 30 after….When to the Upper Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) but no luck.

  9. Charles - Gibraltar

    Nothing from Gibraltar apart from getting a cold, no comet on the 8th March. Stay on the look-out 30min before sun fall and 30 after….When to the Upper Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) but no luck.

  10. brad

    Luckily, S & T has clarified dates, rather than the media blitz that convinced many of us to look last night – it won’t be viewable until the evening of the 12th. Keep watching!

  11. Kevin

    I had an unobstructed horizon with light patchy clouds, but neither my eyes or binoculars ever found it. Is it still visible from more southerly latitudes? Has it fallen apart?

    One of the local TV stations reminded us to "look west right around sunset" to see the comet. Sigh. Stop it already!

  12. Joe Stieber

    The comet was sighted at 6:44 pm EST on 09-March-2013 from East Point, NJ, which overlooks the Delaware Bay to the west. A companion was the first to spot it (at 2 degtrees altitude) using my mounted 16×70 binoculars.I subsequently saw it with my 10×42 binoculars too, but it was not visible to the unaided eye.

  13. selwyn

    hi i am unable to access your star chart.
    when i click on it it keeps asking for my email and password wiich i have already given not sure what to do
    may be you have an answer
    thanks
    selwyn

  14. Alex Pakulski

    We had a very good view of Comet PanSTARRS last night in central Maine. I observed it around 7 o’clock EST with a 7.5 x 42 binoculars. Good view of the head with a small wispy tail. By 8 o’clock it was a minimal naked eye object with moderate dark adaption and averted vision. Skies were crystal clear and the coyotes serenaded us while we took turns looking through our binoculars!

  15. FER

    If you offer viewing advice to friends or the public in the next few days, remind them that airplane contrails, highly foreshortened and backlit by the Sun, often look like little comets. Through binoculars, the distinction is usually obvious: if it is visibly moving, it’s a jet with a contrail. Visually without optical aid, the best clue is probably brightness. If you see something that looks like a BRIGHT comet, it’s probably just a contrail.

  16. Michael

    in Perth, Australia – found that visibility of the comet was typically 45 minutes to 70 minutes after sunset – and even then it was only visible to the naked eye for maybe 5-10 minutes of that. I used my DSLR and shot a bit wide initially for spotting and then refined for a better photo.

  17. Nancy

    I live in Key West, Florida. My balcony faces the West. I’m pretty sure I saw the comet this evening. It was very clear in the sky—if that’s what it was. I’ll watch for it again. Did anyone else see it in the Florida area?

  18. David Foster

    Spotted the comet with 7×50 binoculars at about 8:00pm CDT March 10, 2013 near Magnolia, Texas. It was low in the twilight sky, but distinct through the binoculars. Fifteen minutes later I couldn’t see it probably because it was behind trees.

  19. Frank Pliska

    Sunday 3/10/13 Very Good seeing conditions in NE Fl. this evening with five degree horizon view to the west however could not find PanSTARRS even with 100mm binoculars. Looked from sunset till 45min after. Im afraid weather here wont allow good conditions for at least 3 or more days.

  20. Margrit McIntosh

    Started observing in mid-town Tucson a block from my house at 6:57pm with my 7×50 stargazing binoculars. Spotted it at 7:07pm (MST – we don’t believe in Daylight Savings here in Arizona). Very nice! Saw the tail and everything. I could just make out the nucleus with the naked eye with slightly averted vision once I knew where it was.

  21. Robert Simpson

    I observed the comet tonight March 10, 2013 from Portland, TX using 9×63 binoculars. First sighted at 8:14 P.M. at just 4.5 degrees elevation. It wasn’t visible to the naked eye, but the coma was well developed with about 0.3 deg tail showing a golden color.

  22. Bob Sills

    I spotted the comet tonight (March 10) for the first time. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (latitude N37.7) and saw the comet 36 minutes after sunset, when it was about 5 degrees above the horizon. It disappeared behind clouds 3 minutes later. It was visible in 8×40 binoculars, but I couldn’t find it naked-eye. In the bright twilight sky, all I could see was a bright nucleus and a short tail (perhaps 0.2 or 0.3 degrees long) pointing to the upper-left.

  23. Azael

    Here in Panama (9° N 79° W) we have been waiting, but have had bad weather conditions. Today, March 10, was the same. Even though clouds were gone right ahead, from here to the west there was a strong cloud cover that blocked up to 10° over the horizon. Tomorrow March 11, all cloud cover forecasts indicate clear skies over Panama to the West. Florida west coast as well as Mexico Pacific coast will be cover with dense clouds. We will be there to meet PANSTARSS once and for all, hopefully.

  24. Tim S J

    I saw it this evening 3/10 at 7:45 pm as it decended into the gloom of the San Fernando valley with my 10×50 binoculars. I was about a mile east of Hansen Dam, north of Los Angeles.

  25. Clayton Summers

    Clear skies at Laguna Beach, but not visible naked eye.

    I took pictures, but did not know if I got anythign until I got home. I did get a picture, but pretty dim.

  26. John Dolby

    Saw the comet tonight west of Tucson, AZ. Wasn’t sure what to expect. Kept watching the horizon for the sky to darken and wasn’t seeing anything. Then I used binoculars and star hopped along a line from Alpheratz to Algenib to Diphda and caught it in strong twilight. The comet is small but bright enough to be seen easily with binoculars. It was also very low. If I had waited until dark, it would have been gone. I will post a picture in the gallery.

  27. Brian Bellah

    Awesome! Caught beautiful views for 20 minutes or so…hard to find, be patient. Viewing required binos of 8-10X. No naked-eye pick-up from far west Tucson. Great views with 20X. Entire viewing session took place in orange sunset band. Looking forward to photo ops on the 12th with moon.

  28. Brian Bellah

    Awesome! Caught beautiful views for 20 minutes or so…hard to find, be patient. Viewing required binos of 8-10X. No naked-eye pick-up from far west Tucson. Great views with 20X. Entire viewing session took place in orange sunset band. Looking forward to photo ops on the 12th with moon.

  29. Ed Kastlie

    No go here in Cardiff, CA.. excellent view of the ocean at least. Less hazy tonight than last night- and it wasn’t as red. I believe the weather’s supposed to be getting warmer this week enough to burn off most of the coastal haze. Assuming PanStarrs will show up in the next few nights.

  30. Jim Oss

    No dice here from Wa Keeney ( western ), Kansas. I’ll give it another try this evening. I’m not going to haul the old Dobsonian out to the viewing site unless I spot it. I think it’s a dud like that K’whatheheck one. Oh well, there’s always November.

  31. Albert

    Fair to good sky with only light clouds near the western horizon, in south Georgia, USA. We saw nothing between sunset & 1 hr. after on March 9th & 10th. Searched about 5 to 15 deg. left of sunset, and from horizon to about 15 deg. above horizon using binoculars. Did see some really nice meteors moving from east to west high in the northern sky with good flash on contact and a long, sustained, tail.

  32. Jordi Delpeix Borrell

    I observed the Comet PanSTARRS last night (March 10th)at about 18h40m UT for 10 minutes before it descended into my local horizon from Barcelona (Europe) +42º North.It was not visible to naked eye,but with 10×50 binoculars It was easy to see in the twilight as a comet with a tail of about 1º, very clear and beautiful sigth. The comet looks yellowish, and the center of its coma looks brighter, showing a very high degree of concentration.

  33. John

    I found it last night from 20miles due south of Denver, Colorado last night. Sun set ~7:00pm, I found it with 10×50 binocs (10×30′s I cannot confirm a sighting) and it was barely visable to me. My father was unable to find it with either binoc. I believe my young age (25) allowed me to spot it as it was exceedingly dim. Many photos taken but I use film so about to develop. (Pentax Asahi MX through 85-205mm f/3.8 on 400ISO film).

  34. John

    I found it 30min after sunset (~7:30pm for me). Watched it till it set 30min after spotting (~8:00pm). Again too dim in 10×30′s for me but we had some nasty haze last night (sadly normal for us looking towards to mountains south of Denver).

  35. york bateman

    had clear skys and a great view all the way to the horizon searched from sunset till way after comet set. will continue to search tonight and tomorrow night. feel better that i’m not the only one who didn’t find. good luck and keep searching.

  36. Karl

    Barely naked eye visible on the 10th from Taos, NM 36 north, 7000′ altitude, 50 minutes after sunset, very low on an annoyingly bright horizon. Will try from a higher altitude on the 12th.

    It shows up 30 minutes after sunset in contrast-enhanced photos, much higher in blue sky. But I could not see it at the time, even with binoculars.

    I could only see it with the naked eye after spotting it with binoculars and and knowing exactly where to look, and only for a couple of minutes.

  37. Phil Mollicone

    Monday, 11 March. Perfect, cloudless sunset, beautiful view west down the Don valley here in the west of Aberdeenshire. Daughter & I are looking, but no comet tonight, must still be too near the sun. Started looking at 6:30, about half an hour after sunset, and carried on until almost 7:30. hope it will be clear tomorrow.

  38. Robert Provin

    I spotted the comet from my apartment roof on March 10 at 7:35 PM PDT with 8×20 binoculars. Easy to see with a short tail. Not visible to naked eye. Estimated mag. ~3. Will be out for the next few nights for an anticipated better view.

  39. Sequoyah Quinton

    Was not a disappointment in eastern Oklahoma, watched it through a 30power spotting scope. I will try to get photo’s tomorrow, weather permitting

  40. Hank Rowe

    Was a little bummed to see wisps of clouds due west prior to sunset – but they drifted off giving us a clearly unobstructed view! My son and I were gazing west… couldn’t find, couldn’t find… then POW! All of a sudden, there it was! And, this was clearly visible just after 7pm – like I said, maybe a few degrees off of due west, just above horizon. These were no quality binoculars either! Once sighted with binocs, then could spot with naked eye. Wonderful thing to share with my son – tomorrow, we’ll head outside with his telescope :-)

  41. Irv

    good viewing in Tucson tonight from Sabino canyon parking lot. easily seen in binoculars from about 718 pm to about 723 pm very low in horizon, it may have been visible before that as well. not visible to naked eye, but coma and tail very clear in 20x binoculars. fairly unspectacular, but that’s 2 nights in a row with clear skys to west .. hoping for a good view tomorrow.

  42. Robert Constant

    From the bluff overlooking Marina del Rey (Los Angeles), Plainly visible in 7×50 binos at 7:25pm PDT. BY 7:45pm too low in the haze and barely visible. Tomorrow will break out the 10" reflector..

  43. Mike

    Could not see anything in west Fort Worth, Texas. I started watching from sunset 7:30 pm CDT until about 9 pm. Had some good binoculars too. Hopefully the crescent moon will be a better guide tomorrow.

  44. Martin Soegnen

    Here in Vanse, Norway, it was no luck tonight on the evening of the 11th. Tried only with binoculars and did not spot it, despite clear sky. Think its because the comet is still to low, or under horizon. But I hope it will show itself tomorrow around sunset.

  45. Tim S J

    I saw it again tonight 3/11 about 7:50 pm. Still need binoculars. It was fading in and out. Could not get a photo. Location was La Crescenta, CA at 2000 ft elevation.

  46. Casey Heck

    The second night in a row that I’ve been able to see the Comet here in Texas. Last night it was very bright about 15 min after sunset, low in the west, but was quickly obscured by clouds. Tonight was very clear and we observed the comet at about 30 min after sunset, low on the western horizon. It had a nice, wide tail, and set fairly fast below the trees. by the time we aligned the scope for a picture, it was too low and setting fast. Looking forward to tomorrow night!

  47. Gary Spiers

    Saw it this evening from the High Desert town of Palmdale, CA. Picked up first in binoculars and then found it in a small spotting scope (Pentax 65ED) with zoom eyepiece. Tricky as initially there was some thin cloud cover that meant it kept blinking in and out when first picked up. Was able to get an image through the eyepiece using an iPhone.

  48. John F. & Phyllis Dugger

    Observed the comet first on 3/10/13 from Tucson AZ. Comet was ~ 2-3 degrees above the horizon; tail was almost parallel to horizon maybe tilted up 5 degrees; estimated magnitude 2 to 3; was easily identified once spotted at 7:10 PM MST. Definite coma (nucleus) with tail < 1/2 degree. Comet was observed for ~ 5 minutes before setting behind tree on horizon; was ~ 5-10 degrees south of sunset point with tail pointing towards north as it set. Observed with 9x63mm binoculars. Observed again tonight 3/11/13 at 7:08 PM MST on eastside of Tucson. Again using 9×63 binocs to find and observe. Has a bright nucleus ~ 1-2 mag; with tail ~ 30-45 minutes in length; position angle of tail is ~ 90-100 degrees measured counter-clockwise from north; comet was ~ 4-5 degrees above horizon when first observed. Was able to observe comet with averted vision as the western horizon became darker. (Observations also posted on S&T FACEBOOK page)

  49. jaime

    Thanks x this art. and your video about the Comet.Unfortunable cant be shared at fb. or by e-maail, the latter.
    I also have being watching. with goog binoc. the last 3 days, including today, without luck, since the moon and Comet P.s,still below the horizon.Hopefully will be visable x tomorros a this chart shows 4 my city location in Chih.Chih. aprox.28 gr. Will have to watch again , hopping clear skies. I have only a toy tlesc.reflector of 60mmm, that I will try, just because THIS art. mentions it. But surely missed to indicate, that refers to professional telesc. over a minimum of 300dlls or f? capacity range?.With mine, not having for a better budget, i have difficulty to focous a full moon, jaja, after 1 hr. intent., changing diferent eyesglasses etc..So good luck to the unexperienced amateours as me, over their roofs of a smoky &dusty city of 1000 million habitants, with early city lights of city arbotants? (streets lights)

  50. Ockert le Roux

    We had a similar experience than Jim Baughman. Last night, 11 March 2013, we had a clear western horizon from Australia, with no PanSTARRS to be found, despite three sets of experienced eyes looking for it with binocular aid. We first sighted the comet on 5 March 2013. It was a naked eye object and despite Melbourne’s city lights, it was fairly easy to detect at an estimated magnitude 2. We have been clouded out since then. The rule of thumb is that it should have brightened, as it reached perihelion on Sunday, but all indications are that it has become much dimmer since. Something else I don’t understand either, is that the diagram indicates it to climb higher above the western horizon, and therefor should increase detectability with a wider window and associated darker sky. We will try again in three hours time and use the crescent Moon as reference, weather permitting. I will post photos to S&T of the 5 March observation.

  51. Scott Bulkley

    Got it! Viewed PanSTARRS Monday night in southern California (35 degrees North latitude) from 40 minutes after sunset for 20 minutes until it was gone. Was much lower than expected – only about 3 degrees above horizon. It was NOT a naked eye object from my location. Used my 10×50 binoculars. Could see wide ORANGE dust tail curving to the upper left. VERY EXCITING!

  52. Mike

    I was able to get a photo of PanSTARRS from Paradise, California at about 19:57 PDT on March 11, but was unable to spot it with my naked eye or 10×40 binoculars through thin clouds to the West.

  53. AZAELB

    Glad to report that on March 10 it was not visible to the naked eye and hard with 10×50 binoculars, so we set a sequence of 0.5 sec 14 Mpixel pictures and stacked them with Registax. They were taken at 6:55pm. In the resulting image the comet shows up, very dim, and also got Mars near the horizon out from the near to horizon haze and smoke produced by a nearby themal plant. Wonderful. March 11 was not lucky, had to do the same photo sequence and also 1, 2 and 5 sec exposures with film with an older camera. The sequence was not fruitful we are waiting from the film to develop. Today skies clear again so this time we will try the reflecting telescope and CCD cameras. It seems that today California’s west coast may have clear skies too. The same in los Cabos and Baja California. Good luck to all, with the crescent Moon on sight.

  54. Ockert le Roux

    Again we had a clear western horizon in Melbourne, Australia this evening (13 March 2013). The same team of three amateur astronomers searched the sky between 7.40pm through to 10.00pm. Conditions were even better than last night, but not is single trace of comet PanSTARRS was to be found. Comet Lemmon is now a beautiful comet, with a greenish coloured nucleus and well developed tail in the constellation of Sculptor. It was not visible to the naked eye and was sighted through a pair of 10x50mm Zeiss binoculars. A Nikon D3S camera mounted on a Manfrotto tripod with a 200mm lens at f2.8, ISO 5000 and 6 second exposure , brought out the detail of comet Lemmon.

  55. jjsanantonio

    Success on seond night attempt. Good binocular view from NW San Antonio TX 3/11/13 20:15-20:35 CDT. Be patient, haze appears to cause slight delay during evening twilight. approx 1 degree south of west. S&T view chart is very accurate. 15 to 20 minutes max viewing time at lat 29 47, long 98 43 W.

  56. Andre Bormanis

    I saw it last night (Monday) from my balcony in West Los Angeles. Fairly easy to spot in 8×30 binoculars, but very low in the sky. Well-defined tail and coma.

  57. Phil Mollicone

    Tues 12th. Still no go from Aberdeenshire (Scotland). Poor visibility though tonight, lots of cloud and snow showers. Clear patch in the west from around 7 to 7:30 and scanned with bino’s but no comet. Maybe we are still too far north?

  58. Bruce Schupler

    PanSTARRS wasn’t visible to the naked eye tonight from my house in Olney, Maryland, but it was an easy target in my Fujinon 16X70 binoculars. A bright nucleus with a short but very obvious tail. Now, if the clouds will just stay away for another few nights.

  59. P Constantinides

    Saw it tonight from just west of downtown Atlanta from 8:15 to about 8:30. Not visible to the naked eye tonight, but fairly easy to spot with binoculars just west of crescent moon as a smudge of light with a slight tail.

  60. Albert

    We got it! My wife picked it out of the twilight with binoculars, while I was setting up the telescope. The time was about 8:25 p.m. and we were worried that it would set before we could zero in on the location. It was very much as predicted in the article above. The real battle was to see it over the deminishing twilight before it dropped below the horizon. In south Georgia, USA we had fair skys but with some haze in the first few degrees above the horizon. Nancy saw it three or four degrees above the horizon, while I only made it our about 2 degrees above.

  61. Sally

    Just took my boys our to see it in Santa Fe, NM and found it to the left of the moon, at about 7:45. Couldn’t see it with the naked eye, but a pair of astro binoculars made it clear. Pretty cool!

  62. Rick Day

    We spotted the comet around 7:50 CDT after waiting for muck to settle. No naked eye visibility, OK in 7X35 binos, very nice in my Orion Shortube 80 mm with 32 and 20mm eyepieces. Watched until 8:25 or so when it was losing its snap in the horizon haze.

  63. Richard Brummett

    My wife and I just spotted Panstars in Las Vegas on March 12. It was not too bad looking at all. My wife was very excited about seeing it. It was not real bright but could be seen easily with binoculars. I cant wait until November for the next comet to make a visit.

  64. Ricl

    Got out tionght from the backyard and saw it easily with the 10×70 binos.

    It Showed witha very bright necleusslightly elongated with a broad fan shaped tail about 30" long. Tried to see if I could spot it naked eye, Might have, but can;t really be certain.

    Clear Skies
    Rick

  65. Ricl

    Got out tionght from the backyard and saw it easily with the 10×70 binos.

    It Showed witha very bright necleusslightly elongated with a broad fan shaped tail about 30" long. Tried to see if I could spot it naked eye, Might have, but can;t really be certain.

    Clear Skies
    Rick

  66. Jack Pinkham

    Just spotted c/2011 L4 PanSTARRS with my wife atop our roof 5 story building!! From downtown San Francisco, Ca. @ 7:50PDT. Used a pair of Nikon 7X50 binoculars. There was some fog but it remained low also some high cloud but I could still see the comet thru them. It was just left of the thin cresent new moon.

  67. Jack Pinkham

    Just spotted c/2011 L4 PanSTARRS with my wife atop our roof 5 story building!! From downtown San Francisco, Ca. @ 7:50PDT. Used a pair of Nikon 7X50 binoculars. There was some fog but it remained low also some high cloud but I could still see the comet thru them. It was just left of the thin cresent new moon.

  68. Ffab

    Just watched the comet from my front yard in the SoCal high desert. Looked beautiful through 25×100 binos. Took some photos with a 200mm lens and they didn’t come out bad. Watched it till it (and the pretty crescent moon) disappeared over the horizon.

  69. Louie

    Successful sighting from atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, CA. Barely visible to the naked eye but clearly visible with binoculars. Going again , this time with a telescope, Thu night as clearer skies are expected.

  70. Bill Simpson

    I saw it on the 12th of March from the NASA Stennis Space Center’s depopulated 125,000 acre acoustic buffer zone. Without the giant 100mm X 14 power binocular, I couldn’t see it. The sky was still too bright before it went into the pine trees. If I used the binoculars as a guide while they were on the tripod, I could just see a faint smudge with out the binos, but finding it without binocular would have been impossible, at least for me. It did look cool thought he binocular. The tail looks unusually fat. It might be easier to see in a few more days? The Navy SEALS got my attention when they cut loose with a mini-gun and a couple of .50 calibers in the swamp. Even a cop drove up! It was like I had ventured into Government World.

  71. Scott Bulkley

    PanSTARRS was an easy naked eye object tonight, March 12, although not spectacular, from 35 degrees north latitude in southern California. Located it about 3 degrees to the left of the thin waxing crescent moon at same altitude. Through binocualrs, the coma was especially bright, and the dust tail was short, but very wide and fan-shaped. Tail began as white but changed with elevation to an orange color (due to atmosphere). Watched it for a full 45 minutes before it set around 8 p.m. local time. I was impressed that the comet was finally visible to the unaided eye, and look forward to more great views each and every night this week. Best comet since Hale-Bopp!

  72. Bob Blinn

    I observed Pan-STARRS west of Wichita, Kansas at 37*44’07"N 97*37’35"W between 35 minutes after and one hour after sunset on March 12 (which occurred at 7:35 local time). At sunset, we had high thin clouds. Transparency was at 3rd best and somewhat marginal for this type of observation. The observing site was generally free of light pollution toward the west (except for light from the setting sun). I swept up Pan-STARRS 35 minutes after sunset by turning a 6" F5 dobsonian reflector about 4 or 5 degrees south (negative direction in azimuth or to the left) of the extremely thin crescent moon (29 hours old at approx 10*above the horizon). The head was bright perhaps 1′ or 2′ in diameter and the tail appeared to be about 10′ or 15′ long. I was also able to see the comet with a 90mm f5 monocular. I was not able to see it with my naked eyes. I am estimating 2nd magnitude – not 1st magnitude but that may be because of extinction near the horizon.

  73. Mike Brown

    Saw it for the first time evening of Msrch 12 from Rockdale, TX, lat 30-30 N. 10-by50 binoculsars. Agree with the second magnitude estimate. Not among the top tier of comets I’ve seen in my lifetime. Greatest comet–West in 1975. Greatest thrill–showing Halley’s in telescope in 1986 to a couple of nice ladies who first saw it in 1910.

  74. Jim

    watched it from Salt Lake City on 3/12 about 8:15pm DST. A light smudge to the left of the moon. Was able to observe about 10 minutes until obscured by clouds.

  75. Jim Norwood

    I was able to spot it here in Tulsa OK with 10×50 binoculars on the 11th and again last night (the 12th). I had driven a couple miles past the west edge of town and first acquired it right around 30 minutes after sunset. I never could pick it out with the naked eye, and it certainly didn’t jump out and grab you even in the binoculars, but was nevertheless easily identifiable as long as you were looking at the right place. I feel like maybe it was a little fainter last night then it was on Monday. Hopefully it’s not fading that fast and maybe my viewing conditions just weren’t quite as clear last night, as there was some smoke from a nearby fire in the area.

  76. mike

    after trying unsuccessfully for the past few nights to see
    the comet, I was able to locate it using the newly risen
    crescent moon as a guide. it was around 7:05 central time
    before the sky was dark enuogh to make it out with
    binoculars. the comet and moon were barely in the same
    field of view

  77. Mar

    From Arcadia, California, we saw PanSTARRS last night, to the left of the new moon. Had to look for quite awhile with our binocs, it turned out we were looking too close to the moon. Hope we have another clear night tonight and can see it again. Thanks for the chart which helped us find it. We found it approximately 7:30 pm but tonight will be looking earlier

  78. Richard Arndt

    March 12th 50 miles outside of Austin, TX

    PanSTARRS was easily visible in 7×50 binoculars in the same field as the moon when viewed from Inks Lake with reasonably clear dark skies. Not visible naked eye, at least not to us grandparents. Photographed well using moon as framing guide. Comet is low on the horizon so a clear low Western horizon is a must.

    Thanks for the finder chart! It works great!

  79. Don

    Yes, I did see it last night. that would be March 12th. Needed binocs. was a little hazy. found it right next to the fingernail moon just a little before 8PM.

  80. Sly Silverfox

    Started watching for PanSTARRS around 6:30 PM on March 12th in North Phoenix, AZ just as the sun was dropping below the western horizon. The evening sky was crystal clear. I watched very closely, but I saw nothing but the vapor trails of jetliners flying to and from Los Angeles and San Diego. Will take another stab at it on March 13th.

  81. Marc

    I saw it on the 12th. It was about in the 9:00 position of the moon. It had a bright core, with a fanlike tail. I pulled it in with 15×70 binos. Great catch!!!! Time 7:28 CST

  82. Ron Robinson

    Just spent a very cold 20 minutes observing the comet from Holland, MI. The comet was easy to spot and the tail was quite evident, even in my low power binoculars. The comet appeared as a distinct dot and the tail displayed noticeable edges. Lake Michigan always seems to have an offshore cloud bank, whether or not the skies aboye are clear, so I feel lucky to have been able to get a good look at it. This may have been my only chance to spot it, since cloudy skies are predicted for my location for an extended period.

  83. john meltzer

    Just saw Panstarrs through 15-70′s in Schererville,IN.Had a small coma with a 1 degree tail.Also a slight hint of color.Not bad for first time.The moon helped to.Clear skies.

  84. Andrew Arai

    Comet PanSTARRS was visible about 5-7 degrees above the western horizon from the suburbs northwest of Washington, DC. The moon was very helpful in locating the comet tonight as the comet was almost straight below the moon. Around 7:45 pm through twilight, I first located the comet just above the tree line using 10×42 Nikon binoculars. The nucleus was bright and clearly larger than stars. With the tail, the appearance was distinctly a comet. The tail was short, perhaps 1/4 the diameter of the moon. The nucleus was visible with the naked eye after having found the comet first with binoculars but the tail was not. Conspicuity did not improve as the sky darkened perhpas because the comet also started setting into DC haze.

  85. Kyle

    I’ll post some good news. I caught the comet tonight from Tallahassee, FL. It was as clear as gin with binoculars, and then easy to see with the naked eye. I’d definitely recommend using binoculars first or you could easily miss it. Through an 8" reflector that I brought with, it was amazing. The twilight makes it glow a burning red. You really need clear skies and an unobstructed horizon though. I used a long lake on a crystal clear evening, but within 15 minutes, smoke from a controlled burn completely obstructed it. Happy hunting!

  86. Danny Lineberger

    Several friends and I saw comet PanSTARRS from a rural location west of Asheboro, N.C. on Tuesday, March 12. One of the members of our club, the Greensboro Astronomy Club, had his 15×70 binoculars. These really helped the comet stand out against the background of the twilight.

  87. Irv

    Again from Sabino Canyon parking lot on 3/13, viewable clearly in 20x binoculars from about 7:15 to 7:37 pm . well below moon. Not really naked-eye visible. Makes 4 nights in a row with clear western skies .. hardly a great comet, but it’s there. Will continue to check the next couple of nights.

  88. Azael

    Finally, confirming view of PanStarrs from Panama. Location: 8° 19.87′ N, 80° 31.83′ W. It was easier this time because the it is located very well between the crescent Moon and the Sun, almots midway along the ecliptic. We have some trouble with a long low cloud covering the view, but the backlight was still strong, so we waited for the comet to leave the lower part of the cloud. And there it was. We followed from 19:10 to 19:20 EST, as it got dimmer. Clearly seen the center spot and the tail, visible over a brown-ochre background. It occupied about 1/10 of our field of view. We used a Celestron Powerseeker 114mm EQ reflector telescope (f/8.0) with a 15mm Kellner eyepiece with the help of a modified Celestron motor drive. We could not get a decent picture, we had a converted lifecam h3000 webcam and a digital camera with an eyepiece adapter, but it was just too low light to trigger any of the cameras. We also had an old film camera but did not have an adapter for the telescope. But anyway, my wife and I were extremely happy to see it for the first time. By the way we have to go a cow field in the country side of Panama to see it. Seven cows were our witnesses! We used Cartes du Ceil and Stellarium to help us find it. I wish luck to all who tried to see it.

  89. Kevin

    The comet was clearly visible through binoculars from my backyard in Cypress here in Orange County, once i knew where to look. It was well below the thin crescent moon, and to the right a little bit, around 7:30PM local time. I will try to locate it tomorrow a little bit earlier, and take some images through my telescope, now that I have a general idea where to look. It was only about 6-8 degrees above the horizon by the time I finally found it. The light pollution from my backyard is absolutely terrible, so I assume it was visible with binoculars anywhere in SoCal tonight, as long as there was an unobstructed view of the western horizon (and the viewer knew exactly where to look).

  90. Tim

    03/12 19:07 mst, captured it visually with 15×50′s about five moon diameters south, invisible to naked eye from the parking area. Easy to find with first binoc scan.
    03/13 19:25 mst, captured it visually with 15×50′s almost due west below the moon, got several images with my 400mm and dslr, invisible to naked eye west of Phoenix on the west slopes of White Tank mountains. Very hard to find… scanned for about 25 minutes.

  91. Jon

    Finally caught some nice clear skies here in Newport, RI last night (13 March)! I was able to find the comet, with difficulty, through my 7×35′s about 35 minutes after sunset. It was extremely faint, even then, but the head and tail were clearly visible. There was too much light pollution for me to see it naked-eye, but I followed it until it set and was able to get a few decent pictures of it, along with the crescent moon. Hoping for another night or two of good visibility before it’s gone for good!

  92. John Meltzer

    Saw panstarrs yesterday evening through 15-70′s bino,s from Schererville In. The coma was small but bright and the tail was about 1 degree long.Not bad for my first try. Clear skies.

  93. Rich

    I have seen the comet the last two nights amidst windy and cold conditions in the St. Louis area. Magnitude about 1.5, so the comet’s brightness has actually come in close to expectations- would that ISON in November come so close! The problem I think is that we underestimated the effect of twilight upon observing this comet. Twilight is washing out all but the innermost part of the tail. According to the total brightness and the STEREO pictures, there is a great or near-great comet out there, but the actual observation is far short of great. The problem is the unfavorable orbit orientation will keep PanSTARRS in the twilight until it has faded greatly. Although bright, in visual impressiveness I think PanSTARRS ranks only about tenth in the comets I’ve seen.

  94. Albert

    On the evening of March 13 viewing was the best yet in our rural SE state. At about 8:10 pm the twilight was still too strong, but between 8:15 and 8:20 pm my wife Nancy had what she thought was a naked eye visual about half way down between the crescent moon and the horizon. I handed her the 10X50 Bushnell binoculars because her description was exactly where the Sky and Telescope chart showed it should be, and I could not find it. She was on it perfectly, and while I later studied the image in the binoculars she continued to describe naked eye visual contact fading in and out as if there were some thin clouds between us, which there likely were. By about 8:45 to 8:50 pm the comet had approached setting to about one (1) degree above the horizon and was becoming hard to see in the clutter of smoke/smog/etc. nearer to the horizon. I was only able to resolve it occasionally with my naked eyes, but she did better (younger eyes?). The binocular images were great for a distant comet.

  95. Robert

    Despite hazy sky at sunset on Tuesday Mar 12, was able to see the comet through binoculars from Rancho Cucamonga, California. Unsuccessful in locating the comet on Mar 13. However, skies are predicted to be better for viewing tonight and Friday night.

  96. Robert

    Despite hazy sky at sunset on Tuesday Mar 12, was able to see the comet through binoculars from Rancho Cucamonga, California. Unsuccessful in locating the comet on Mar 13. However, skies are predicted to be better for viewing tonight and Friday night.

  97. Mike Gundersen

    Since March 9th the clouds have reined supreme over any views west from Massachusetts. Finally last night there were clear skies and the show was on! From the top of the old quarries (now Granite Links Golf Course) in Quincy, MA the comet was very nicely spotted by a small group of viewers (all incredibly friendly and would like to find out if they’re interested in more viewing of the heavens) At first PanSTARRS seemed very dull but as the sky got a little darker we were able to see more of the tail and with a 10 sec exposure on my 135 lens I even think I captured the coma. This was my first time viewing a comet thru any optics since Hyakutake and Bopp got me interested in astronomy, of course who needed optics for those!

  98. Paul McBride

    On the Evening of the 12th, here in NW Arkansas, the comet was not found. Curiously a jet contrail was mistook for the comet and photographed with the appropriate angle pointing toward the sun. After taking the photograph, the contrail vanished.
    On the evening of the 13th, the comet was readily found with binoculars. The tail quite visible and extending about the width of the moon appeared to be double with two equal trails parting at about 20 degrees from each other. An attempt to photograph the comet yielded less than satisfactory results. Only and elongated smudge appeared on the best of three exposures.

  99. Jonathan

    Had two great nights of viewing here in Michigan, with a good showing by PanSTARRS. Spotted the comet easily in binoculars on both the 13th and 14th, under beautiful skies, and had some great views with a Celestron 6" f/8 refractor. It was a good introduction to comet viewing for my 8 year old son!

  100. Irv

    one more night from the Sabino Canyon parking lot. very clear tonight, say it from 7:10 until 7:35 clearly, even barely naked-eye visible as a smudge. We’ve been very blessed here in Tucson with perfect western visibility, and can see the comet all the way down to the horizon.

  101. The Forsythes

    Thursday 14 March 2013 Forsythes saw comet Panstarrs by driving up to the Vantage Highway Pass ~30 miles east of Ellensburg. Kay played hooky from church choir rehearsal and I, Tuck, played hooky from the main weekly group quiet-time-out. The comet was an intense white glowing disk. The few times we saw it best, it was fuzzier and occasionally Kay saw a tiny tail going upward. March is a cloudy time; so we took what might be our only opportunity to see this somewhat over-hyped comet. Kay first observed the comet about 7:45 PDTime, about 30 minutes after sunset here in WA. It might have been visible for 15-20 minutes, as it passed down through thin cloud banks.

  102. Richard H.

    we have been able to see the comet two nights in a roqw from our home in Tomball,Texas just NW of Houston. beautiful clear night sky to the west and patiently waiting for dusk…then Pow there it was. we watched it though binoculars until it was completely dark. amazing that it is over 105 million miles away.

  103. JimK

    Found the Comet on 3/13 using the moon as a guide. Fantastic viewing from a parking garage roof 45 minutes after sunset. Used 10 x 50 binoculars to find it, followed by Astronomy Binoculars. Appeared as an orange ball with a longthy tail – much better than I anticipated.

  104. Homer Greene

    "Comet PanSTARRS’s orbit is bringing it by the Sun for the first time, after it has spent billions of years in the cold of deep space. In the coming months it will fly back out again, never to return."

    How do you know it will never return again? It may not return in our lifetime would be a more correct statement.

  105. David

    So far no luck. I have tried every night to find the comet. Using an ETX90 I have panned the sky down to the horizon. Even with a fairly dark sky no luck. I believe the sky glow from Las Vegas might be enough to hide it.

  106. Phil Mollicone

    Friday 15th. Finally got it. Clear cold night here in Scotland. Some low scattered clouds on the horizon, and got it in bino’s about 7:30, with about 15 minutes before it went down behind a low hill. The hill has obviously been the problem earlier in the week. If clear tomorrow, may drive to find a higher viewing point. 15 yo daughter could see it w/out the bino’s — young eyes.

  107. Alan

    I have been able to see and photograph the comet from south Alabama. It isn’t real easy to find, so hang in there, keep trying. Good navigation and binoculars really, really help. If you have a camera that can do time exposure, grab a tripod and give it try. It will help you find it too, if you have a digital so you can view the photograph right after taking it.

  108. Thom Gillam

    Wednesday 3/14 the sky was mostly clear so I went to a nearby spot where there is a pretty clear view of the western horizon. I took along cheap 10×50 binos not expecting much. The horizon was obscured by low lying clouds and general murk. About 8PM I was rewarded by a view of the comet! Not very clear, but clearly there. I got excited enough to rush home for my Celestron 11×80 giant binos and a stable (Manfrotto) tripod, but by the time I returned the comet was no longer visible. The next night (3/15) I took the giant binos and tripod out at about 7:30. The conditions were much the same – murk along the horizon, and the comet was not visible. By about 8PM I was freezing my a** off even with a heavy leather coat, scarf and wool cap. As I was about to give it up, I took another look – naked eye – and thought that I saw something through the haze. When I trained the binos on it I was again rewarded with a much better view of the comet and continued to observe for the next 20 to 25 minutes, the cold forgotten. The comet had a very distinct condensed nucleus, and a fan shaped tail whose structure could only be seen when the buffeting winds occasionally relented. All in all this is the 4th best comet I’ve seen, following Hyakutake (the best), Hale-Bopp and Halley.

  109. Chris Franks

    About 20 of us were at the Marfa Lights viewing station on US 90 east of Marfa TX Friday night March 15. We had various binoculars, monoculars, and my ETX-70. We all looked west from sunset to comet set and saw nothing but the headlights on Route 67 20 miles away.

  110. John

    After 1 week of overcast conditions in Renton WA (Lat 47 deg 30′), I finally got a brief break in the clouds that proved to be enough to get a glimpse of the comet with my 10×50 binocs. Right after sunset, I noticed a thin band of blue sky along the western horizon, and it lasted just long enough for the sky to get dark enough for me to find the comet and actually look at it for a minute or two. But by the time I got my telescope pointed towards it, the clouds came back for good. The forecast is for possible clear skies again in a few days. Auuggh. The Pac NW is not a good place to live if you’re an astronomer!

  111. Gary

    From Fairfield CA, I was able to locate it a few nights in a row. It was hard to find, but knowing when and where to look is the key. From a fairly lite location I spotted it on the 12th using the moon as a guide. The next few nights I knew where to look as it dimmed each night. I was able to spot it with great difficulty. I was using 10X50 binoculars

  112. Bruno MARQUET

    Friday March 15th : at 900 m of altitude from Voreppe – France, we saw the comet with naked eye… but not obvious. With binoculars, 7 x 50 and Canon 18 x 50 stabilized, it was nice. The nucleus is bright but the tail is faint. Looking forward to seing Ison !!!

  113. Matt Lundy

    After being fooled by on contrail on the 7th (it’s my first comet!), I observed briefly on the 13th and then longer on the 14th. Clouds over the Rockies prevented observation since then, but I did have a nice view of the conjunction of Jupiter and the Moon last night. Looking forward to darker skies for tail development (it looks long in some CCD images).

  114. Rich

    I had the comet near magnitude 2.0 last night. Could not see it with the naked eye from my slightly light polluted location. Tail slightly more evident than last week. Not a total bust but somewhat disappointing. I would rank it about #12 out of 52 comets I have seen in overall impressiveness. I have seen several fourth or fifth magnitude comets with more evident tails than PanSTARRS. Although it got quite bright, somehow it failed to develop a sizeable tail and thus fell well short of "great comet" status.

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