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Clear skies give another chance to see comet Pan-STARRS

Posted by David Epstein  March 10, 2013 05:00 PM

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After a spectacular early March day we have one more opportunity to see a celestial show tonight in the western sky. The comet Pan-STARRS is going to be at its brightest tonight. Clouds are in the forecast, but right now may hold off long enough for some possible great viewing. There are high clouds in areas south of the Massachusetts turnpike, but it's worth a quick look.
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The are conflicting reports of just how bright the comet will be, but it's worth a shot. A lot of times these heavenly shows are late at night, this one occurs just a bit after sunset. I think it's worth the 15 minutes to try to see it. The comet will make its closest approach to the sun tomorrow after coming within a 100 million miles of the earth a few days ago. I gave it a shot to no avail last evening, but will try again in a few hours.

I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Please send me a picture if you see the comet

comet panstars.jpg
This comet was only recently discovered two years ago and will not come around again for 100 million years, if it survives that long.

This comet is called a "Sun-grazer" comet because it passes so "close" to the sun. The comet will come within 45 million miles of the sun and this is why it can brighten brilliantly.
In order to see the comet you need a relatively dark spot and an unobstructed view of the southwestern sky. This can be difficult to find here in New England with all of our trees and light pollution. If you miss the show tonight there is another comet later this year. The comet is visible about 30 minutes after sunset for a short time.

Comet ISON will streak across the sky in November. If this comet survives, it could be the brightest one in a generation, but we won't know more until it gets closer to the end of the year.

Tomorrow will be milder day with early sunshine, but clouds will increase. Showers arrive later Tuesday, but no major rain will occur. Colder weather will close out the work week. Temperatures could be remaining under 40F next weekend.

I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Please send me a picture if you see the comet

Gardening this week
You might notice there are a lot of seeds in the stores already. This is a great time of the year to start your own flowers and vegetables. Check the back of the seed packet to see how many weeks before you put your plants outside you need to start them. I will start seeds for the next several weeks.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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