Steve O'Meara, Botswana, and Comet PANSTARRS

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guillermo Abramson captured Comet PANSTARRS above the city of Bariloche and Mt. Catedral in Argentina on March 3. // Credit: Guillermo Abramson
Astronomy magazine columnist Steve O’Meara is currently traveling in Botswana, a country in southern Africa. Early this morning, he emailed me to update his observations of Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4), and the paragraph was so beautifully composed I thought I’d share it with you.

Enjoy as we wait for the comet to emerge for us northerners.

“I got my first view of Comet 2011 L/4 (PANSTARRS) last night (3/5/13 LT) and was amazed. At the moment, from the pioneer village of Maun (the gateway to the African wilderness, among the Kalahari sands), the comet is visible with the unaided eyes only a few degrees above the western horizon in the evening twilight. Still, what a sight in binoculars. It is a classic portrait of an elegant comet with a gently curved dust tail. The dusty skies caused the nuclear region to glow red, like a dying ember, while the tail is burnished yellow. Two local Mophane trees framed the comet, whose tail arched gracefully between them. The tail is a sharply defined parabola, fading gradually, then sharply away from the well-defined nuclear hood. I think we’ll all be in for a good show when the comet climbs higher in the sky in about a week. It is views like this that I believe can instill or return a sense of childhood wonder to one’s heart.

Steve O‘ ”

For complete coverage of Comet PANSTARRS, visit

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