Comet Lights Up March Sky

By Andrew Baglini
3/11/2013 1:42:10 PM

The first of this year's two potential bright comets is visible in March. Comet PanSTARRS will be visible along the western horizon to those in the Mid-Northern Latitudes. Those along latitude 40 degrees north, which spans from Salt Lake City, through Lincoln, Neb., into New York City, will be able to see the comet about 10 degrees above the horizon. Those in lower latitudes will see the comet, just closer to the horizon. On March 5, the comet will set about 15 minutes after sunset, but by the 10th, you'll have a full hour after sunset to spot it. Comet PanSTARRS will fade a bit in April and May, but will still be visible higher in the sky. To see the comet, try using binoculars after sunset.

Also worth noting is the 9-year anniversary of the Rosetta Orbiter being launched. Rosetta is an international mission with U.S. support and NASA instruments, currently on a 10-year mission to catch up with Comet 67P. In May 2014, Rosetta will be the first spacecraft to soft-land on a comet, and accompany it as it enters the inner solar system.