This comet has been on my to do list for months. It has been visible in the southern hemisphere for a while now, as seen in this stunning image from John Sarkissian, which was shown on NASA’s astronomy picture of the day on March 9th. The comet gets it’s name from the telescope that discovered it. Pan-STARRS – the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, an innovative design for a wide field imaging facility developed at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.
After a short period of ideal comet spotting weather, heavy cloud moved in over south east England in the same week as PanSTARRS was due to rise into view from the northern hemisphere. The weather is a common obstacle to any astrophotographer based in the UK, with almost every other celestial event over the past year blotted out by heavy rain and thick cloud cover, well, from my perspective anyway. Up until today this image on the right had been my best effort at shooting the comet…
…Yeah I know.
Anyway, tonight, 17th March, the clouds finally parted at just the right time to allow a chance to view PanSTARRS clearly for the first time. It is just visible to the naked eye in the lovely blue and purple hues of dusk. The clouds held off for a few moments and I also had a chance to shoot some more images before the cloud rolled back in. Thankfully it briefly cleared again before the comet set so I managed to capture this short time lapse video along with a few still images. Make sure you watch the video in full screen.