Around the world on March 12, people were peering at the western sky after sunset, trying to spot Comet PANSTARRS near the young moon. Did you look for it and not see it? The moon will be higher in the sky, and easier to spot, on March 13, and the comet will be in an even better place to spot – between the moon and the sunset point on the horizon. You’ll easily see the moon. Here are some more tips for seeing the comet near the moon on March 13. Remember, you’ll be looking west after sunset.
1. Let your sky get dark enough. The moon is much brighter than the comet and will appear first. If you see the moon but not the comet … wait! The sky might need to get darker before the comet comes into view. Remember to look below the moon, between it and the sunset point, on March 13.
2. Try sweeping with binoculars, below the moon, in the western twilight sky on March 13. Then, when you spot the comet, try to see it with the eye alone.
3. Look for a fan-shaped comet tail, pointing away from the sun.
Bottom line: Beautiful photo of Comet PANSTARRS near the moon on March 12, 2013, plus tips for seeing the comet near the moon again on March 13.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.