First observation of comet PanSTARRS!

Date: 14./
Time: 18:55-19:35
Observing site: Stormälö, Parainen, Finland
Instrument: 7×18 binoculars

SQM: –
Darkness of the background sky: 5
Seeing: 3
Transparency: 2
Weather: Clear sky, -15 °C, calm, light sky (nautical twilight)

Objects observed: Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) (visual, sketching)

Comet C/2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) is now visible also here in the high latitudes! In the evening of 14th of March, I went to my observing site in Parainen to observe the comet. I arrived at the site at 18:45 and started to browse the sky with my binoculars. I had no idea, where the comet would exactly be. After looking it for a while, I eventually found it at 19:36. At 19:42 I saw it also with naked eye! The comet disappeared behind the horizon at 19:53.

This was my very first time to observe this comet! When I found the comet, it was already at very low altitude close to horizon. This time the time window for observing the comet was very short, only 17 minutes before it disappeared below the trees in horizon. This time I observed the comet with my small 7×18 binoculars. With binoculars, I was able to see the star-like coma of the comet and a little bit of the tail. The tail is pointing approximately to PA 50°, and the length of the tail is visually ~20′. I was also able to see the comet as a faint “star” with naked eye.

The sky was still very light during my observation and the comet was at really low altitude, which made observing difficult. But the situation should get better later this month, when the comet is rising higher and it is visible for longer time.

Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7x18 binoculars
Comet PanSTARRS observed with 7×18 binoculars

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