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Comet PANSTARRS

by Louise Good

comet panstarrs over honolulu harbor

Comet PANSTARRS above Honolulu harbor. Photo by IfA graduate student Jason K. Chu.

Did you see it? Did you see it? No? Well, I didn’t either, despite dedicating two evenings to the project. Too many clouds. It is a fact of life that astronomical observations depend on the weather, which is one of the reasons NASA puts some observatories, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, in space.

We will all get a second, and I hope, better chance to see a comet in November, when Comet ISON will make an appearance in the morning sky. It should be bigger and brighter than PANSTARRS. And maybe the weather will cooperate. ISON will be a Sun-grazing comet, which means its path will take it very close to the Sun, within 700,000 miles (less than three times the Earth–Moon distance). If it survives this close encounter, it could still be visible at Christmas.

Some people here in Hawai‘i did see Comet PANSTARRS and were kind enough to share their photographs on our Facebook page, UHIfA.