Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4)

NOTES
DATE:
Friday, March 22, 2013
TIME:
8:59 pm EDT
CAMERA:
Canon EOS 550D (T2i)
EXPOSURE:
2.5 seconds @ ISO 1600
LOCATION:
Richland Township Park
MOUNT:Manfrotto stationary tripod
INSTRUMENT:
Sigma 70-300mm zoom lens set at 300mm (f/5.6)
PROCESSING:
Levels adjusted (slightly) with Adobe Photoshop CS3. Noise Ninja applied.
COMMENTS:
Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) was discovered on June 6, 2011 by the 1.8-meter Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. Pan-STARRS came within 1.09 Astronomical Units (AU) of Earth on March 5, 2013 and reach perihelion (closest to the Sun, about 50 million kilometers) on March 10th.

This was my first chance to capture some images of Pan-STARRS since the weather in West Michigan has been cloudier than usual. It was easy to find in 750 binoculars, but I could never spot it with the unaided eye. The image above displays the star-like nucleus and fan-shaped dust tail. It was only 8 above the WNW horizon and never visible under truly dark conditions (sunset wasn't until 7:57 pm EDT).