Once the famous
PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4)
is now visible all night from much of the northern hemisphere,
bound for the outer solar system as it
climbs high above
the ecliptic plane.
Dimmer and fading, the comet's
broad dust tail
is still growing, though.
This widefield telescopic image
was taken against the starry
background of the constellation Cepheus on May 15.
It shows the
comet has developed an extensive
dust trailing along the comet's orbit (to the left of the coma),
stretching more than 3 degrees across the frame.
Since the comet is just over 1.6
astronomical units from planet Earth,
that corresponds to a distance of over 12 million kilometers.
In late May Comet PanSTARRS
will pass within a few degrees of the north celestial pole.