The long-awaited Comet PanSTARRS is within eyeshot. Observers in the Northern hemisphere can now see the bright celestial rock without the aid of a telescope.
Try looking into the west, a little after sunset. The bright comet PanSTARRS will be right above the skyline.
Jim Todd is OMSI’s Director of Space Science Education. He explains what exactly we’ll see.
“It’s a dirty snowball, and it’s a few miles across, and it’s made up mostly of frozen carbon-dioxide. So when it gets closer to the sun all that material starts to melt off and produce that spectacular tail that we associate with the comet.”
PanSTARRS probably took millions of years to get into our Solar System. In a few weeks it’ll start pulling away into deep space, and probably never be seen again.
Tuesday, the comet will be right next to a waxing crescent moon, making for a great photo op.
If you miss this one, one of the brightest comets of the century is on its way. ISON will be visible in November
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.