Best Chance to View Rare Comet is Tonight: Where to See It

By , AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
March 13, 2013; 9:30 AM ET
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See larger image of viewing conditions of Comet Pan-STARR below.

Stargazers should prepare to potentially see Comet Pan-STARRS this week.

The Pan-STARRS comet, officially known as C/2012 L4 made its debut in the night time sky on March 7, 2013.

Although the comet was at its brightest on March 10 when it was closest to the sun, the comet was close to the crescent moon Tuesday night and will be again on Wednesday night. This could provide astronomers and star gazers the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the comet.

Image created by AccuWeather's Al Blasko.

Avid sky watchers in parts of the Southeast had mostly clear skies and the best opportunity to see the comet on March 12, according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards. Orlando, New Orleans and Dallas will remain dry with partly cloudy skies on Wednesday night as well.

Los Angeles and San Francisco should be dry with visibility remaining decent into the evening hours on Wednesday, providing an opportunity to spot Pan-STARRS, Edwards said.

Minimal clouds will be seen through the Plains including Wichita and Omaha.

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Stargazing Forecast for Your Area

New York City and Boston can expect partly cloudy skies on Wednesday night. Philadelphia and D.C. can expect fair conditions on Wednesday night with more than a 50 percent chance of seeing the comet, according to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson. The best opportunity for the Northeast to catch a glimpse of the comet comes Thursday evening, Anderson said.

Showers and overcast skies will remain through most of the week in the Pacific Northwest which includes Portland and Seattle.

Viewing conditions throughout the week "get better the farther south you are and get worse the farther north you are," Anderson said.

Although Tuesday, March 12, and Wednesday, March 13, were named the best dates to see the Pan-STARRS comet, it could still be visible this weekend.

The weekend outlook for comet watchers in the Northeast looks pretty grim with cloud cover over much of the Northeast, Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley regions, according to Edwards. The Pacific Northwest will also have showers and overcast skies this weekend. With cloudy skies and showers present, stargazers may be out of luck.

However, the Southeast and Gulf Coast states will be relatively dry and should have a good chance of seeing comet Pan-STARRS, Edwards said.

"There will be ample opportunities to see the comet," he said.

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