If you spot a bright light streaking in the sky tonight, don’t worry, it wasn’t a UFO, it was the comet PanSTARRS flying by!
Throughout the month of March, PanSTARRS comet will be visible with the naked eye to sky-watchers in the northern hemisphere as it passes by Earth. The comet has been visible in the southern hemisphere for some months, but this celestial event will be making its first appearance up north tonight (March 7).
To spot the bright cosmic streak in the sky tonight, be sure to first move to a viewing area away from city lights to eliminate light pollution. You can start spotting the comet just after sunset for the next few days by looking for it in the west, “just to the left of the point on your horizon where the sun sets,” says Space.com.
Here are three more optimal comet-sighting dates to mark on your calendar next week courtesy of Space.com:
- Comet Pan-STARRS will be at its brightest on Sunday (March 10) when it makes its closest approach to the sun.
- Two comet-watching dates to prepare for now will be next Tuesday and Wednesday (March 12 and 13). On those evenings, the thin crescent moon will be close to the comet in the sky.
- Depending on the size and direction of the comet’s tail, the moon may actually be silhouetted against the tail on March 13.
The PanSTARRS comet is the first of two visible comets predicted for 2013. The second, Comet ISON, will be visible as it passes by Earth at the end of the year.
Watch this helpful video from Space.com to learn more about Comet PanSTARRS and happy star-gazing!