Good morning and thanks for stopping by and reading the FOX 4 Weather Almanac. Yesterday I got a tweet from one of our followers asking to talk about rumors that the northern hemisphere, which is where KC is, might get the chance to see a comet.
The comet in question is called the comet Pan-STARRS. It was discovered I think in June of 2011 and is making it’s presence known in the southern hemisphere. Already some pretty neat images have been uploaded to spaceweather.com revealing this pretty impressive sight! Now the question is can and when will we get to see it here in KC. Well thankfully it won’t be this weekend as clouds will interfere, but it does look like the evenings of the 10th through the 13th will be good opportunities to check it out here in KC and through the region.
This is something that you may be able to see with the naked eye, but will be best viewed through binoculars or even a telescope from home. What you need to do is go out as the sun is setting, around 7:25 PM or so and look right towards the horizon. Make sure you DO NOT look at the setting sun through any means of magnification! It should appear as a fuzzy star or perhaps, depending on the view we get, like a star with a fuzzy tail shooting upwards. According to experts it should appear about as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper. What you need to do is look towards the horizon and creep your eyes above the horizon over the course of about sunset to about 75 minutes after sunset. It will slowly go above the horizon in that time span. Something else to look for, it should be pretty close to the crescent moon that will appear as well.
The thing about comets is, as you may know, their composed of ice and as they get closer to the sun, the ice melts so predicting exactly how bright or dim they are is tough to do. I saw this quote from an astronomer who knows a thing or two about comets. David Levy said…”Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want.”
There is more information available here on this video from NASA.
The reason why it may be best viewed on the 10th (Sunday Evening) is that it will be closest to the sun then, about 28 million miles away and it should be at it’s brightest. The problem is that we may have clouds blocking our view Sunday evening. That leaves MON-WED evening to see if we can see it with hopefully fewer to no clouds.
This image is courtesy of NASA and shows about where the comet might be visible if things work out with the cloud cover situation…
As the moon get’s bright as the month goes along, the light from the moon may overwhelm the comet’s light.
There is more information here about the comet. I should also mention that another comet in late 2013 has the potential of being so bright that it might be seen during the daylight, that would be bright and VERY rare. That comet has the name ISON and should be viewable in late NOV into DEC…but there are still questions about what will happen when that comet interacts with being so close to the sun (less than 1 million miles from it).
Have a great weekend. There are no real changes needed to the forecast by the way, 50s on Saturday and 30s on Sunday. Rainfall should be under 1/2″ or so and most of that will occur off/on on Saturday. A lot of wind is expected on both days with 30-35 MPH winds expected on SAT and 20-30 MPH winds on Sunday.
Next week does look quieter.