Comet PANSTARRS for die-hards

Comet PANSTARRS climbs toward the North Star through Cepheus the King in the coming nights. It passes close to Gamma Cephei May 12-14, making it easy to find. Click map for a completely updated finder map and more details. Stellarium

Some of you have asked about a new map for locating famed Comet L4 PANSTARRS as it treks through Cepheus headed for the North Star. Well, here ya’ go. PANSTARRS currently shines around magnitude 7 and should still be easily visible in 50mm or larger binoculars as a faint fuzzy spot with perhaps a hint of tail. The comet’s visible all night long for observers at mid-northern latitudes. Share your impressions with us via Comments if you see it.

8 thoughts on “Comet PANSTARRS for die-hards

  1. Yoshimoto observed both comets on May 2. If his magnitude estimates are accurate, Lemmon is headed toward magnitude 7, and Panstaars, magnitude 8.Both are going to be a little difficult with my 20 power binoculars. Maybe I will try to spot them with my 3 inch telescope I bought at Walmart a few years ago.

  2. Hey Bob,
    Just found Comet Lemmon after an unusual spell of uncooperative weather for Tucson. I used an 80mm, f5 refractor, first with a 25mm eyepiece, then with a 10mm to be sure I was really seeing that tiny fuzzball. This was my 30th comet–starting with Kohoutek in December of 1973. I remember Kohoutek being in Corvus. Isn’t that where ISON will be when it reaches binocular brightness? That spooks me a bit. Another question about ISON: have any other comets survived passages that close to the sun? Ikeya-Seki, maybe? I saw McNaught in daylight in December of 2006. If ISON can match McNaught’s post-perihelion, southern hemisphere show–wow. We can hope. Keep up the good work and thanks a lot.
    Norman S.

    • Hi Norman,
      A pat on the back for seeing Lemmon! Comet ISON will reach binocular limit around mag. 8 in late Oct. in Leo and will brighten to mag. 5.6-6 by mid-Nov. when in Virgo. That’s as close as it gets to Corvus. I don’t know which comet has come closest to the sun and survived – good question. Ikeya-Seki passed 725,000 miles away in 1965, Comet Lovejoy was much closer at 87,000 miles in Dec. 2011. ISON’s perihelion distance is around 700,000 miles so it’s not a record-breaker.

  3. [IMG][/IMG]
    Hi Bob,
    I finally got a chance to look for PanSTARRS again on the morning of 5/5.
    It’s been so long since my last observation of it in a bright twilight sky that
    the many background stars of Cepheus kind of confused me at first.
    As it turned out, a sweep of the suspected location at 25x with my Antares 6″
    refractor revealed PanSTARRS as an easily seen fuzzball.
    I don’t have really fancy imaging cameras but my old Sony DSC F-707 attached
    to the scope revealed a respectable scene with a 30 second exposure.
    For a little more camera-oomph, I then caught the image above with my Canon T1i and a 2 minute exposure at ISO 800. What a wonderful time!
    The sky was crystal clear with a “cooperating steady temperature of 35 degrees
    Please let me know if the image won’t open.
    Thanks for your great website!
    Bill, in Massachusetts

    • Hi Bill,
      Very nice! You captured both tails. Thanks for the link. Even though this comet is fading, it still has a remarkable structure, and I agree, Cepheus is busy with stars and a little confusing at first.

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