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Although Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) has now faded significantly since reaching naked eye brightness a few months ago, it still remains visible to those in the northern hemisphere with a medium size telescope.

At the start of June, the comet had just crossed the constellation boundary into Ursa Minor and was shining at magnitude 9.5. At this brightness PanSTARRS is theoretically visible with just a pair of binoculars, although in practice, dark moonless skies and good seeing conditions are required to glimpse it. A small 80mm (3.1-inch) telescope makes the task somewhat easier, but to catch one last good look at this dirty ice ball as it heads off into deep space we recommend at least a telescope of aperture 150mm (6-inch).

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

Comet PanSTARRS is currently well placed for observers located at northern hemisphere latitudes. Throughout June it's positioned high in the sky towards the north and for those located at latitudes of 25N or greater, the comet is circumpolar and hence visible all night. PanSTARRS is also visible from the tropics, although it appears low down towards the northern horizon. From southern hemisphere temperate latitudes it's not visible at all.

At the end of May, PanSTARRS passed only 5 degrees from Polaris (α UMi - mag. 2.0), the Northern Pole Star. It then continues its journey through Ursa Minor and on June 18/19 passes only 0.5 degrees from Kochab (β UMi - mag. 2.1), the second brightest star in the constellation. On this date, the comet is predicted to shine at magnitude 10.3, falling down to magnitude 10.7 by the end of the month.

The chart below show the path of PanSTARRS from May 13th to June 28th, 2013. As always the appearance and particular brightness may change depending on how it performs.

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - May 13, 2013 to June 28, 2013

Finder Chart for Comet PanSTARRS - May 13, 2013 to June 28, 2013 - pdf format


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

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationEstimated MagnitudeDistance from Earth (AU)Constellation
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 20s9.61.873Ursa Minor
04 Jun 201316h 18m 02s83d 10m 27s9.61.886Ursa Minor
05 Jun 201316h 03m 10s82d 38m 31s9.71.898Ursa Minor
06 Jun 201315h 50m 32s82d 05m 02s9.71.911Ursa Minor
07 Jun 201315h 39m 48s81d 30m 24s9.81.924Ursa Minor
08 Jun 201315h 30m 37s80d 54m 53s9.81.937Ursa Minor
09 Jun 201315h 22m 43s80d 18m 43s9.91.950Ursa Minor
10 Jun 201315h 15m 55s79d 42m 04s9.91.964Ursa Minor
11 Jun 201315h 10m 01s79d 05m 06s10.01.977Ursa Minor
12 Jun 201315h 04m 53s78d 27m 53s10.01.991Ursa Minor
13 Jun 201315h 00m 24s77d 50m 32s10.12.004Ursa Minor
14 Jun 201314h 56m 29s77d 13m 07s10.12.018Ursa Minor
15 Jun 201314h 53m 02s76d 35m 41s10.22.032Ursa Minor
16 Jun 201314h 49m 60s75d 58m 17s10.22.047Ursa Minor
17 Jun 201314h 47m 20s75d 20m 58s10.22.061Ursa Minor
18 Jun 201314h 44m 58s74d 43m 44s10.32.075Ursa Minor
19 Jun 201314h 42m 54s74d 06m 39s10.32.090Ursa Minor
20 Jun 201314h 41m 03s73d 29m 43s10.32.104Ursa Minor
21 Jun 201314h 39m 26s72d 52m 58s10.42.119Ursa Minor
22 Jun 201314h 38m 01s72d 16m 23s10.42.134Ursa Minor
23 Jun 201314h 36m 45s71d 40m 02s10.42.149Ursa Minor
24 Jun 201314h 35m 39s71d 03m 53s10.52.165Ursa Minor
25 Jun 201314h 34m 42s70d 27m 58s10.52.180Ursa Minor
26 Jun 201314h 33m 52s69d 52m 17s10.52.195Ursa Minor
27 Jun 201314h 33m 08s69d 16m 50s10.62.211Ursa 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 35s10.82.340Draco
06 Jul 201314h 30m 27s64d 09m 32s10.82.357Draco
07 Jul 201314h 30m 28s63d 36m 45s10.92.374Draco
08 Jul 201314h 30m 32s63d 04m 14s10.92.391Draco
09 Jul 201314h 30m 39s62d 32m 01s10.92.408Draco
10 Jul 201314h 30m 48s62d 00m 05s10.92.425Draco
11 Jul 201314h 30m 59s61d 28m 26s11.02.442Draco
12 Jul 201314h 31m 12s60d 57m 05s11.02.460Draco
13 Jul 201314h 31m 28s60d 26m 00s11.02.477Draco
14 Jul 201314h 31m 45s59d 55m 13s11.02.495Draco
15 Jul 201314h 32m 05s59d 24m 43s11.12.512Draco
16 Jul 201314h 32m 26s58d 54m 31s11.12.530Draco
17 Jul 201314h 32m 49s58d 24m 35s11.12.548Draco
18 Jul 201314h 33m 13s57d 54m 57s11.12.566Draco
19 Jul 201314h 33m 38s57d 25m 37s11.22.584Draco
20 Jul 201314h 34m 05s56d 56m 33s11.22.602Draco
21 Jul 201314h 34m 34s56d 27m 47s11.22.620Draco
22 Jul 201314h 35m 03s55d 59m 17s11.22.639Draco
23 Jul 201314h 35m 34s55d 31m 05s11.32.657Draco
24 Jul 201314h 36m 06s55d 03m 10s11.32.675Draco
25 Jul 201314h 36m 39s54d 35m 31s11.32.694Boötes
26 Jul 201314h 37m 13s54d 08m 09s11.32.712Boötes
27 Jul 201314h 37m 48s53d 41m 04s11.42.731Boötes
28 Jul 201314h 38m 23s53d 14m 16s11.42.750Boötes
29 Jul 201314h 38m 60s52d 47m 43s11.42.769Boötes
30 Jul 201314h 39m 38s52d 21m 27s11.42.788Boötes
31 Jul 201314h 40m 16s51d 55m 28s11.52.806Boötes

See also

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) heads towards a close pass by of Polaris, the Northern Pole Star
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