CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- On March 10, comet 2011 L4 (Pan-STARRS) made its closest approach to the sun about 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) away. NASA scientists say that the comet should emerge from the sun's glare and be visible to the naked eye tonight on March 12, 2013. The comet can be seen next to the crescent moon in the twilight sky just before sunset.
Comets visible to the naked eye are rare. Scientists estimate that the opportunity to see one without the aid of a telescope or binoculars happens only once every five to 10 years. This comet's visibility in the night sky will progressively fade away each following day after March 12.
As the NASA video details, where you are located in the United States (or anywhere in the Earth's Northern Hemisphere) will alter where to look for the comet in the night sky. The comet will appear higher relative to the horizon to viewers in northern states while slightly lower to viewers in southern states.
Discovered in June 2011, Pan-STARRS is named after the telescopic survey that discovered it -- "Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System" which sits atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii.
Image and Video Credit: NASA