Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), discovered in June 2011, was expected to become a bright naked eye comet in March 2013.
However, comets are like cats, they have tails, and they do precisely what they want (by David H. Levy). The comet failed to live up to people's expectations. Though its peak brightness reached as bright as mag +1, the tail development was disappointing. While normally a comet this bright should display a tail up to 10+ degree long, comet Pan-STARRS only developed a broad, low-surface-brightness dust tail with a length of 3 degrees after it passed perihelion and ventured to northern hemisphere's sky.
Though comet Pan-STARRS failed to become a naked eye spectacle, it did offer some fine photo opportunities for the northerners. One of the highlights of this comet's display, is probably its close encounter with the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in early April, which was a beautiful sight both visually and photographically.
I took advantage of a home visit to China to follow comet Pan-STARRS at its best. This short time-lapse compilation includes footages from three clear nights within a period of 15 days. I came up with some graphics to demonstrate how the orbital positions of the comet changed with respect to the sun and inner solar system planets. From the graphics, it is obvious that the comet wasn't very well positioned and always remained rather distant from earth. Had the comet visited a few months earlier, we might have been greeted with great excitement instead of disappointment. Anyways, we still have comet ISON to look forward to later this year. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Equipments and Software:
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Canon 50D
- Canon EF50mm f/1.4 USM
- GBTimelapse for bulb-ramping control
Music: (royalty-free and licensed under Creative Common LIcense)
- mindthings - Shine (jamendo.com/en/track/423114/shine)