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One of my real passions is the night sky.  It started with my dad taking me out to look at the sky as a young kid.  For some reason I was the only one of us 3 kids who developed the passion.  It may have had something to do with my birthday being during the Perseid shower in August, who knows.  But I get out and try to see the interesting things, like the annular solar eclipse and Venusian transit last year.  Well this month it’s Comet PanSTAARS.  We got a great few days of viewing and the Moon was in the perfect phase for photos.  So I grabbed my camera gear and binoculars, paused the Penguins game, and ran out behind our development to a rise where I could see more of the horizon.

The sky was still too bright to see anything as I climbed the hill, I couldn’t even find the Moon yet.  But after I made it to the top the seeing got a bit nicer and I finally saw the sliver of Moon and found the comet a minute or 2 later.


The Moon and Comet PanSTAARS (to the left and up, about 11 o’clock from the Moon).

As the sky got darker the viewing got even better and the comet was much easier to see.

Comet PANSTAARS and Moon from Rio Rancho NM

Comet PanSTAARS and Moon from Rio Rancho NM

This is the comet by itself at the max zoom of my Sigma 50-500mm.  With my cropped sensor it’s the equivalent of 800mm or so.

Comet PANSTAARS from Rio Rancho NM, March 12, 2013

Comet PanSTAARS from Rio Rancho NM, March 12, 2013

And here is the comet and the moon just before they set.

Comet PANSTAARS and Moon from Rio Rancho NM

Comet PanSTAARS and Moon from Rio Rancho NM

We should be able to see the Comet from Albuquerque for the rest of the week.  I plan on taking my daughter out tomorrow night to see it.  Her eyes are amazing, so she should have no problems seeing it.  Understanding what it is is another matter, but she’ll get it.

Here’s information from Sky and Telescope’s website on seeing the Comet this week in the Northern Hemisphere:

And I did some searching about the name and Pan-STAARS stands for Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, it’s a giant camera in Hawaii that is searching for new asteroids and other NEOs, their website is here:

Go outside and look!


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  1. Thanks for the post, Steve. I went out to look at sunset and only saw contrails; couldn’t even find the moon, but I’m back on it tonite and will look a bit longer.

    • steve permalink

      It’s not terribly bright, but it’s almost due west. I couldn’t see Mt. Taylor from where I was, but if you can, then you should be able to see it. The Moon won’t be near it tonight though. Good luck! If you don’t see it by tomorrow, maybe we can meet up and look for it. I want Leira to see it too.

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