This was Comet PANSTARRS as it appeared Monday night, March 11, as it set over the Chiricahua Mountains.
Tonight we drove north, away from our New Mexico resort, to find a site overlooking lower hills to the west, in order the track the comet for longer as it set toward the horizon. Friends from Winnipeg joined us, and as the Sun set, three more cars pulled up with astronomers from the area all looking for the best vantage point for comet watching. We had an impromptu roadside comet party.
Even so, it was tough picking PANSTARRS out of the twilight and it was never naked eye. Pity this comet hasn’t blossomed, as a bright long tail would have been a beautiful sight in the sunset glow. However, it is what we had expected – a first time visitor from the Oort Cloud promising great things initially but never quite delivering on the promise. Still, we were all happy to see it and shoot it. This frame is one of 140 I took in time-lapse of the comet setting over the hills.
We have ideal conditions for comet viewing each night this week, unlike many in the northern hemisphere now. So our little group of Canadians in New Mexico are taking some satisfaction in knowing we’re seeing it, and many aren’t.
– Alan, March 12, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer