From the ABC 7 Weather team

Comet Watching: Possible to see around Washington tonight

March 12, 2013 - 03:16 AM
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Skies clear late and where to look.

A reasonably bright comet that is sometimes described as the "icy snowball" of our solar system has made a rare naked eye appearance in the evening sky.  This is a great image of the comet named "pan-STARRS" (named after telescopes not humans this time) as seen in the southern hemisphere earlier in March.  

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This great picture is courtesy of Michael Goh.

Now the comet has passed behind the sun by "only" 26 million miles and as it heads back to deep space will be visible here in the northern hemisphere and D.C. area.  BUT we need clear skies and a clear view of the western horizon.  I think there is a chance to see the comet this evening. 

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The rain and cold front will pass us this afternoon and if our hyperlocal futurecast shows some clearing around 7-8pm which will the best time to try and see the comet.  Here (thanks to Sky and Telescope) is where to look. 

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If the skies are clear shortly after sunset 7:20-7:45PM look to the west for the very, very thin cresent moon as shown in this diagram below from EarthSky.org.  Pan-STARRS should look like a blur above the moon.  
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Try and find a really good view of the western horizon and with binoculars (no need for a telescope) you should be able to clearly see it.  Let me know.  I'll try myself this evening (if my "clearing" forecast is correct) and let you know.  Good luck comet watchers. If not this evening we'll try later in the week, but this evening the very thin crescent moon is a good guide where to look.

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