Comet C/2011 L4 Pan-STARRS Closest to Earth

Today Comet C/2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) will make its closest approach to Earth. Not that that is saying too much, close approach will be 1.09 AU or about 101,300,000 miles, just over the average distance from the Earth to the Sun. In contrast Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) will approach us to closer than half that distance, about 0.42 AU or 39,000,000 miles from Earth on December 26th, 2013.

The comet should be visible as a 2nd magnitude object 7° above the horizon and a little south of the Sun at sunset. It will climb higher each evening, passing through perihelion, close approach to the Sun on March 10th.

Comet 2011 L4 Perihelion
C/2011 L4 ( PanSTARRS ) positions in the sunset as it passes through perihelion, chart for March 10th, 2013

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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