Sweeping quickly through
southern skies on March 5,
Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) follows the Sun toward
the western horizon in this twilight scene.
In the foreground is Australia's CSIRO
Parkes Radio Telescope,
a 64 meter wide steerable dish that is no stranger to
the space age exploration of comets.
In March of 1986 the Parkes dish tracked ESA's
Giotto spacecraft as it
Comet Halley and
received the first ever closeup images of
At naked-eye visibility, Comet PanSTARRS made its closest approach
to planet Earth on March 5.
Its closest approach to the Sun will be on March 10.
Heading north, PanSTARRS now begins a much
low in the northern hemisphere's western skies after sunset.
On March 12,
look for the comet hugging the western horizon
near a young crescent Moon.
(CSIRO Parkes Observatory)