Last night (Wednesday, March 13), I went looking for Comet PanSTARRS. If ever I was going to find it, last night was the night. It was the first clear day we had in Chicago in about a week; the beautiful crescent moon was shining and pointing the way to the comet; and I had a reasonably clear western horizon in a large field next to a local high school. Armed with my binoculars, I went out and waited until the sky darkened.
Unfortunately, I went home disappointed. The comet was coy and my attempts to spot it were in vain. Several factors contributed to my failure, I think. First, the glow from twilight took a very long time to fade away. Second, the glow of the city lights was (naturally) worst close to the horizon. Third, the comet really wasn’t bright enough to break through the city glow. As I scanned the sky with my binoculars, it’s not just that I couldn’t spot the comet, I couldn’t even spot any stars in the area–just a flat gray light washing out everything.
What about you other city dwellers? Have you found Comet PanSTARRS? I suspect you’d have to get away from the city lights to have a chance. I hope that Comet ISON’s appearance this December will be better.
As a consolation, here is a gallery of Comet PanSTARRS photos.