During May, comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) continues its northwards march against the fixed stars, spending most of the month in Cepheus before crossing into Draco at the tail end of the month. Despite fading fast, the comet is now circumpolar for most of the northern hemisphere hence visible towards the north all night. PanSTARRS will fade from about magnitude 7.8 to 9.4 as the month progresses but should remain a small / medium sized telescope target although increasingly more difficult with binoculars. It's currently not visible from southern hemisphere latitudes.

Comet PanSTARRS passing by M31 on March 30, 2013 (Image credit - Pavel Smilyk)

PanSTARRS spent much of April moving through the distinct "W" of the constellation of Cassiopeia before crossing the border in Cepheus on the last day of the month. As it move northwards during May, it passes many dim stars on a journey that takes it towards Polaris (α UMi - mag. 2.0), the Northern Pole Star. At its closest at the end of the month, the comet is only about 5 degrees from the Pole star. In the meantime on the evening of May 13th, PanSTARRS will pass only 0.25 degrees west of magnitude 3.2 star gamma (γ) Cep, the second brightest star in Cepheus.

The charts below show the path of PanSTARRS from April 19th to June 2nd, 2013. As always the comet appearance and particular brightness may change depending on how it performs.

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - April 19, 2013 to May 13, 2013

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - April 19, 2013 to May 13, 2013 - pdf format

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - May 5, 2013 to June 2, 2013

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - May 5, 2013 to June 2, 2013 - pdf format

Comet PanSTARRS

NameC/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS)
Discovered ByPan-STARRS
Discovery DateJune 6, 2011
EpochFeb 4, 2012
Aphelion (AU)unknown
Perihelion (AU)0.3016
Eccentricity1.0001
Orbital Period (years)~110,000
Inclination (degrees)84.19
Next perihelionMarch 10, 2013

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationEstimated Mag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
06 May 201300h 02m 39s71d 25m 33s8.21.574Cepheus
07 May 201300h 00m 22s72d 14m 54s8.31.583Cepheus
08 May 201323h 57m 50s73d 03m 48s8.31.592Cepheus
09 May 201323h 55m 02s73d 52m 12s8.41.602Cepheus
10 May 201323h 51m 54s74d 40m 07s8.41.611Cepheus
11 May 201323h 48m 24s75d 27m 29s8.51.621Cepheus
12 May 201323h 44m 29s76d 14m 18s8.51.631Cepheus
13 May 201323h 40m 03s77d 00m 30s8.61.641Cepheus
14 May 201323h 35m 02s77d 46m 01s8.61.650Cepheus
15 May 201323h 29m 19s78d 30m 47s8.71.661Cepheus
16 May 201323h 22m 47s79d 14m 43s8.71.671Cepheus
17 May 201323h 15m 16s79d 57m 41s8.81.681Cepheus
18 May 201323h 06m 35s80d 39m 33s8.81.691Cepheus
19 May 201322h 56m 28s81d 20m 06s8.91.702Cepheus
20 May 201322h 44m 40s81d 59m 06s8.91.712Cepheus
21 May 201322h 30m 49s82d 36m 14s9.01.723Cepheus
22 May 201322h 14m 31s83d 11m 04s9.01.734Cepheus
23 May 201321h 55m 19s83d 43m 05s9.11.745Cepheus
24 May 201321h 32m 47s84d 11m 36s9.11.756Cepheus
25 May 201321h 06m 39s84d 35m 48s9.21.767Cepheus
26 May 201320h 36m 52s84d 54m 48s9.21.778Draco
27 May 201320h 03m 57s85d 07m 42s9.31.790Draco
28 May 201319h 29m 01s85d 13m 49s9.31.801Draco
29 May 201318h 53m 40s85d 12m 50s9.31.813Draco
30 May 201318h 19m 37s85d 04m 57s9.41.825Draco
31 May 201317h 48m 17s84d 50m 50s9.41.837Draco
01 Jun 201317h 20m 25s84d 31m 23s9.51.849Ursa Minor
02 Jun 201316h 56m 15s84d 07m 34s9.51.861Ursa Minor
03 Jun 201316h 35m 35s83d 40m 20s9.51.873Ursa Minor
04 Jun 201316h 18m 02s83d 10m 27s9.61.886Ursa Minor
05 Jun 201316h 03m 10s82d 38m 31s9.61.898Ursa Minor
06 Jun 201315h 50m 32s82d 05m 02s9.61.911Ursa Minor
07 Jun 201315h 39m 48s81d 30m 24s9.71.924Ursa Minor
08 Jun 201315h 30m 37s80d 54m 53s9.71.937Ursa Minor
09 Jun 201315h 22m 43s80d 18m 43s9.81.950Ursa Minor
10 Jun 201315h 15m 55s79d 42m 04s9.81.964Ursa Minor
11 Jun 201315h 10m 01s79d 05m 06s9.91.977Ursa Minor
12 Jun 201315h 04m 53s78d 27m 53s9.91.991Ursa Minor
13 Jun 201315h 00m 24s77d 50m 32s10.02.004Ursa Minor
14 Jun 201314h 56m 29s77d 13m 07s10.02.018Ursa Minor
15 Jun 201314h 53m 02s76d 35m 41s10.02.032Ursa Minor
16 Jun 201314h 49m 60s75d 58m 17s10.12.047Ursa Minor
17 Jun 201314h 47m 20s75d 20m 58s10.12.061Ursa Minor
18 Jun 201314h 44m 58s74d 43m 44s10.22.075Ursa Minor
19 Jun 201314h 42m 54s74d 06m 39s10.22.090Ursa Minor
20 Jun 201314h 41m 03s73d 29m 43s10.22.104Ursa Minor
21 Jun 201314h 39m 26s72d 52m 58s10.32.119Ursa Minor
22 Jun 201314h 38m 01s72d 16m 23s10.32.134Ursa Minor
23 Jun 201314h 36m 45s71d 40m 02s10.42.149Ursa Minor
24 Jun 201314h 35m 39s71d 03m 53s10.42.165Ursa Minor
25 Jun 201314h 34m 42s70d 27m 58s10.42.180Ursa Minor
26 Jun 201314h 33m 52s69d 52m 17s10.52.195Ursa Minor
27 Jun 201314h 33m 08s69d 16m 50s10.52.211Ursa Minor
28 Jun 201314h 32m 31s68d 41m 38s10.62.227Ursa Minor
29 Jun 201314h 32m 00s68d 06m 42s10.62.243Ursa Minor
30 Jun 201314h 31m 34s67d 32m 01s10.72.259Ursa Minor
01 Jul 201314h 31m 13s66d 57m 35s10.72.275Ursa Minor
02 Jul 201314h 30m 56s66d 23m 26s10.72.291Ursa Minor
03 Jul 201314h 30m 43s65d 49m 33s10.82.307Ursa Minor
04 Jul 201314h 30m 35s65d 15m 56s10.82.324Draco
05 Jul 201314h 30m 29s64d 42m 35s10.92.340Draco
06 Jul 201314h 30m 27s64d 09m 32s10.92.357Draco
07 Jul 201314h 30m 28s63d 36m 45s10.92.374Draco
08 Jul 201314h 30m 32s63d 04m 14s11.02.391Draco
09 Jul 201314h 30m 39s62d 32m 01s11.02.408Draco
10 Jul 201314h 30m 48s62d 00m 05s11.02.425Draco
11 Jul 201314h 30m 59s61d 28m 26s11.12.442Draco
12 Jul 201314h 31m 12s60d 57m 05s11.12.460Draco
13 Jul 201314h 31m 28s60d 26m 00s11.12.477Draco
14 Jul 201314h 31m 45s59d 55m 13s11.22.495Draco
15 Jul 201314h 32m 05s59d 24m 43s11.22.512Draco
16 Jul 201314h 32m 26s58d 54m 31s11.22.530Draco
17 Jul 201314h 32m 49s58d 24m 35s11.32.548Draco
18 Jul 201314h 33m 13s57d 54m 57s11.32.566Draco
19 Jul 201314h 33m 38s57d 25m 37s11.32.584Draco
20 Jul 201314h 34m 05s56d 56m 33s11.42.602Draco
21 Jul 201314h 34m 34s56d 27m 47s11.42.620Draco
22 Jul 201314h 35m 03s55d 59m 17s11.42.639Draco
23 Jul 201314h 35m 34s55d 31m 05s11.42.657Draco
24 Jul 201314h 36m 06s55d 03m 10s11.52.675Draco
25 Jul 201314h 36m 39s54d 35m 31s11.52.694Boötes
26 Jul 201314h 37m 13s54d 08m 09s11.52.712Boötes
27 Jul 201314h 37m 48s53d 41m 04s11.52.731Boötes
28 Jul 201314h 38m 23s53d 14m 16s11.62.750Boötes
29 Jul 201314h 38m 60s52d 47m 43s11.62.769Boötes
30 Jul 201314h 39m 38s52d 21m 27s11.62.788Boötes
31 Jul 201314h 40m 16s51d 55m 28s11.62.806Boötes

See also

Final swan song for Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4)
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) moves through Cassiopeia
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) starts to fade but remains a naked eye and binocular target
Media Frenzy as Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) is now visible to observers in the Northern Hemisphere
How to see Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) in March 2013
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) edges closer to March evening performance
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) on the verge of naked eye visibility
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) brightens to within binocular range

Sky Highlights - March 2017

Comet
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak now visible with binoculars as it heads towards perihelion

Mercury
Mercury heading towards greatest elongation east

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for March 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus (mag. -4.8 to -4.1 - first half of month), Mars (mag. +1.3 to +1.5), Uranus (mag. +5.9), Mercury (mag. -1.5 to -0.4 - second half of month)
Midnight
Southeast:- Jupiter (mag. -2.3 to -2.5)
Morning
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus (first half of month), Mars, Uranus
Midnight
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Morning
West:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +8.0 - second half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Telescopes:-
Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

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