COMET PAN-STARRS MOVES NORTH: On March 10th, Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) makes its closest approach to the sun inside the orbit of Mercury. As the comet swings by the sun it is also crossing the celestial equator, moving from southern to northern skies. First sightings of the comet are now coming in from the northern hemisphere. Halda Mohammed sends this picture from Kulim, Kedah, Malaysia (latitude +5o N):
Visibility will improve next week as the comet moves away from the sun. When it is framed by darker skies, Pan-STARRS should become an easy target for naked eyes and small telescopes alike. Check the realtime comet gallery for the latest images.
More: NASA video, 3D orbit, ephemeris, light curves.