First look at Pan-STARRS C/2011 L4

It’s been a fairly blue day and I had hopes of glimpsing Pan-STARRS.  I went out after sunset, and between the crescent moon and the sun is a beautifully textured but mostly opaque mass of cirrus.  Quite a lovely evening but not a glimpse of the comet through the binoculars.  I was helped by Callie the cat who thought it helpful to rub on the binoculars while sitting on my chest.  I pretty much gave up and went inside to warm up and hope I’d get another chance if the clouds moved off.

image of comet panstarrs
Comet Pan-STARRS C/2011 L4. Canon 60Da; 135 mm; ASA 1000; 4 sec at 5.6.  20130314.

In fact, when I went back out, a fairly bright spot was emerging from the low side of the clouds, followed by a distinct tail, easy in the binoculars.

Cropped detail of comet PANSTARRS C2011 L4.
Cropped detail of comet Pan-STARRS C2011 L4.  20130314.

I ran in to grab the camera, which I had already set up on a tripod.  I made a few exposures at 4 seconds f/5.6,  but only one was steady enough to use.  The comet was visible but not obvious with the naked eye.

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