Comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) visible in the west, just after sunset5th Mar 2013
Movie of comet setting. This comet, discovered in June 2011 by the Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, passed closest to the Earth on 5th March, then the Sun on the 10th, and is now heading back out of the solar system. The closest it will get to the Earth is about 1.1 AU which is 10% greater than the earth-sun distance of 93 million miles (150 million km). Best seen from the Northern Hemisphere during March, starting low in the sky after sunset, in Pisces, and climbing gradually throught Pegasus and Andromeda as the month progresses. It should be visible to the naked eye. The comet is considered to be non-periodic, having originated from the Oort cloud, but after it passes the sun it will have a measurable orbit of about 110,000 years. More details and images are on the EarthSky website.
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