08/12/2013 – Ephemeris – Comet PanSTARRS will appear near the moon tonight
Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 12th. The sun will rise at 7:59. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 7:45. The moon, 1 day past new, will set at 9:05 this evening.
Tonight 40 to 45 minutes after sunset, that’s about 8:30 p.m., if it’s very clear down to the western horizon Comet PanSTARRS might be glimpsed low on the western horizon. The day old sliver of the moon will point to the comet. The comet will appear just to the left of the moon by about 8 moon widths. The comet will appear due west, so a compass will help locate it. It’s tail is expected to be nearly vertical and canted to the left. If the comet is bright enough the tail will appear to be split in two. The gas component is ionized and is pushed back rapidly by the solar wind. Cometary dust is pushed by the pressure of sunlight. Near perihelion, its closest to the sun as comet is moving crosswise to its tail. The tail will swing to the right in the coming days.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.
As noted in yesterday the sky is from, Stellarium and the comet from Cartes du Ciel. Both free programs that can be downloaded from links on this page. The moon is from my own, much simpler LookingUp program. The moon does appear slightly larger and brighter than how it will appear in the sky, as does the comet. The comet will set shortly after 9 p.m. and the tail may be visible for a while after that.
Reports show that the comet is reaching 1st magnitude, but not for long. Check the link for spaceweather.com for some cool pictures of the comet in the evening twilight.