After clouds prevented a local viewing of Comet PANSTARRS on Sunday and Monday night, and then rain on Tuesday night, a small contingent of stargazers (Tina Huestis, Glen Huestis, Tom Thibault, Rebecca Tremblay) chose an elevated location with a good unobstructed view to the west and finally observed this celestial visitor on Wednesday evening, March 13.
We set up even before the sun set (at 6:50 pm) so we would be ready to train our binoculars and telescopes on this dirty snowball from the Oort cloud at the edge of our solar system. Three other guests joined us during our observing session.
Based on reports from other locations, we knew it was going to be a challenge to find. Most observers stated they could not see it with their naked-eye. We didn’t either. We kept sweeping with binoculars and Tom spotted it first around 7:20pm. Then each of us finally caught sight of it in binoculars.
Then I was able to sweep the general area of the sky with my 4.25-inch reflector under low magnification and quickly got it into view. WOW! A fairly bright head with a distinct fan-shaped tail. Even once we knew where to look for it we still couldn’t see it with the naked-eye. And even when twilight was fading we still couldn’t see it without at least using binoculars.
We watched the comet until it sank out of view behind the tree-line to the west.
The attached image I managed to take was with Tom›s camera.
Hopefully it will be clear over the next few nights to continue our observations of Comet PANSTARRS.