UPDATE: Look for comet shortly after sunset, local astronomers say

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Updated: March 9, 2013, 6:09 PM

 

Local skywatchers will be able to see Comet Pan-STARRS very low in the sky toward the west, a Vancouver astronomer said.

The time to start looking is about 30 minutes after sunset, when the recently discovered comet will be only about 10 degrees above the horizon, said Stan Seeberg, with Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers.

Tonight's sunset is at 6:09 p.m.; Sunday's (after Daylight Saving Time kicks in) is 7:10 p.m.

To get a ballpark gauge for 10 degrees, make a fist, hold it out at arm's length and place the bottom of your fist where you perceive the horizon to be. The top of the fist will be about as high as the comet will appear, Seeberg said.

Using binoculars, look for what may appear as a star -- possibly with a tail pointing generally upward. If you don't see anything at first, continue to look as the sky gets darker.

"If you don't see it by the time the sky is nearly dark, it will unfortunately have set," Seeberg said.

On Tuesday, a nicely positioned thin crescent moon will provide a reference point; the comet will appear just to the left of the moon.

Pan-STARRS will move northward each evening during March.