Comet PANSTARRS over Upper Ferntree Gully, VIC, Australia by Chris Samuel
It appears that our hopes for Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) may pan out after all. The most recent magnitude estimates put the comet at around 1st magnitude, considerably brighter than it was a week ago and approaching the optimistic forecasts from a few months back. Significantly, the comet already appears brighter than the 2nd or 3rd magnitude that many pessimists were predicting for the comet’s peak this weekend. Comet PANSTARRS currently has a high surface brightness and an impressively bright and long tail. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere may get our first views this evening, when the comet will lie low in the west-southwest shortly after sunset. Here’s hoping that tonight’s weather in southeast Wisconsin — and wherever you may be — will be crystal clear.
For complete Comet PANSTARRS coverage, check out www.Astronomy.com/panstarrs.