Skies Over West Seattle update: Where to comet-watch tonight

March 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm | In Skies Over West Seattle, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

3:50 PM: Hoping to comet-watch tonight, with Pan-STARRS in the western sky? Above, that’s a new graphic from local skywatching expert Alice Enevoldsen, updating the one originally featured when we published her second “Skies Over West Seattle here last Sunday. We see some clouds gathering to the west right now, so hard to tell how things will look post-sunset, but now you know where to look if there’s a clearing.

5:12 PM UPDATE: Alice says via Twitter that if there aren’t too many clouds, she’ll be at the south end of Lincoln Park around 6:20 to be on the lookout for the comet. Even if it doesn’t show, she says, Jupiter and Sirius will be worth watching.

6:18 PM UPDATE: Update from Alice (in case you haven’t looked outside lately) – we won’t see the comet tonight; the clouds are thickening.

4 Comments

  1. Cool!

    Comment by G — 4:19 pm March 9, 2013 #

  2. Where did you find the photo of its path in the sky in realtion to the horizon. I am in southern NM

    Comment by MIchael — 6:22 pm March 9, 2013 #

  3. Alice created it with a photo by her husband as the backdrop. Check back here – she often checks the comments and might have a suggestion on where to find the best guidance for other areas – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:27 pm March 9, 2013 #

  4. Hi Michael,

    I worked with a set of programs to create this–your best bet for a local horizon finder-chart is going to be http://www.heywhatsthat.com

    Because this comet is pretty much only up before the stars begin to show, you need to know where it is in relation to the horizon. You can get a nice finder-chart in relation to the stars at http://www.astronomy.com, and a generalized one in relation to a horizon at http://www.skyandtelescope.com.

    http://www.heywhatsthat.com will let you choose your location on a Google map, and then it will create a horizon for you for that location, with the local terrain marked. Then (once you have that horizon-it takes 2 minutes to generate) you can click “night view.”

    Further details would be:
    1. From the “night view” page, scroll to the bottom and click “planisphere.”
    2. Choose “advanced planisphere”
    3. Choose the panorama you previously created in the first section, and under “Type of Planisphere” choose “The sky at the specific date and time entered above” which is ALL the way at the bottom. Choose a time that is about 15 minutes after sunset where you are.
    4. Click submit, and download the “.kml” file it creates. (don’t worry about what a .kml file is, we’ll get to that next!)
    5. Install Google Earth if you don’t have it.
    6. Once you have installed and opened Google Earth, use Google Earth to open the kml file you just created. Navigate until you see “W” and zoom in and look at where PanSTARRS is in relation to the horizon peaks in your area.

    Um, I know that’s a lot, but it will give you a good, accurate chart, with your horizon.

    You could also try installing one of those cellphone finder programs on your phone. Sky Safari is a good one that includes Comet PanSTARRS. I’ve found that these programs aren’t stable enough to understand which way my phone is pointed to really narrow in on something small and dim though.

    And Tracy’s right–I do keep tabs on these comments periodically over the course of a couple days.

    -Alice

    Comment by Alice — 10:05 pm March 9, 2013 #

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