Chasing the Comet Panstarrs C/2011 L4

When the comet Panstarrs crossed the perihelion in early March, it has become readily visible to the astronomer in northern hemisphere. Unfortunately the weather in Indiana has been frozen for weeks without sunshine. On the 13th of March, windy weather finally clears all the clouds from horizon and gave me a chance to see it myself.

Animation from the software suggests a very low altitude angle from horizon. This means any tree could easily block your view, this is especially true for flat plain like the State of Indiana. After searching for a spot above the surrounding area, it turn out that a 20 meter slope on the bank of Route IN-52 near walmart will be the best for my first try.

The exaggerated tail from Starry Night Pro Plus really made me thought it should be visible to naked eye. Yet after almost an hour without seeing its appearance, I flicked on the liveview and began scanning the horizon. It turned out that the Panstarrs was really dim and almost soaked in the blinding twilight. And unexpectedly, the comet set into the bright glare of street lamp in the park lot.

After moving our location to the other side of parking lot, the comet is only visible between trees. I managed to capture it before it fades into the cloud. The first try is worthy enough after being blown by the wind.

Panstarrs

On 17th, my friend had led me to the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm just north of West Lafayette. A area of 20 minutes drive from center of Lafayette so unobscured that you could see the horizon. When weather clears again on that following week, we decided to chase it down once more.

Fowler Ridge Wind Farm

Sunset at Wind Farm

And here is the Panstarrs with its tail rotating to point upward. Right now this comet is fading rapidly. With the interference from the light pollution and haze on the ground, and also the twilight, Panstarrs is only visible inside viewfinder.

Panstarrs

And a finally, a short time lapse I took the other day.

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