View larger. | Venus (brightest), Jupiter (second-brightest) and star Regulus make a triangle. The comet is to their left. Composite image – created from two images (sky and landscape) – taken on July 22, 2015 by Marco Nero in New South Wales, Australia. Canon EOS 6D with Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II lens.
Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) passed perihelion – its closest point to the sun – on July 6, 2015. It never got bright enough to be viewed easily with the unaided eye, and most observers – even those in the Southern Hemisphere, where the comet is higher in the sky – have said couldn’t spot it with the eye alone. It’s against a background of bright twilight and sets soon behind the sun. But – since it has been near the bright planets Venus and Jupiter in the sky, and sometimes the moon as well – many have captured wonderful photos of this comet, as you can see from the examples on this page. Thanks to all who have submitted to EarthSky, or posted at our page on Facebook or G+.
Want to try to spot it? See the charts at the bottom of this page.
View larger. | Venus, moon, Jupiter, comet. The comet is in the lower left of this photo, which was taken by Amit Ashok Kamble on July 19, 2015. He wrote: “It wasn’t visible much visually but was a good view through binoculars, ‘scopes and camera. It’s fascinating how it has two tails.” Visit Amit Kamble Photography on Facebook.
Moon, Venus, Jupiter and comet on July 18 by John Lafferty.
Moon and Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) on July 17, 2015 from Yuri Beletsky in Chile.
More detail on C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) from Heavens Above.
More detail on C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) from skyandtelescope.com.
More detail on C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS) from theskylive.com.
View larger. | Comet PanSTARRS (C/2014 Q1) hugs the horizon for northern hemisphere observers and will be a difficult catch the next few nights. This map shows the sky facing west from Minneapolis, Minnesota (45° north), one hour after sunset on July 9 (10 p.m. CDT). Stars shown to mag. +6. Although the map seems to show the comet’s altitude peaking around the 16th, it will actually be below the horizon at that time because of the seasonal drift of the stars. Chart and caption via skyandtelescope.com
View larger. | Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS is now best seen from the southern hemisphere (Alice Springs, Australia here) during the winter months of July and August. On July 18th (shown here) the comet joins the crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Venus for a scenic gathering in the west at nightfall. Stars to magnitude 6. Click for large version. Chris Marriott’s SkyMap software . Chart and caption via skyandtelescope.com
Bottom line: Best photos of Comet C/2014 Q1 (PANSTARRS), which is now at the limit for visibility with the unaided eye and easiest to catch from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.