Comet Pan-STARRS visible from Gulf County beaches

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 04:05 PM.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s Comet Pan-STARRS!

Gulf County residents may have noticed something in the dusk sky over the past few days as Comet Pan-STARRS made its debut in the northern hemisphere.

First visible in U.S. skies on March 8, the comet will continue to swoop by until the end of the week.

Scientists believe that the meteor originated from the Oort comet cloud which surrounds our solar system and the rock traveled for millions of years to get this close to Earth.

To catch a glimpse of the celestial visitor, grab an unobstructed view at your favorite beach and look to the west just after sunset. Keep your eye trained just above the horizon for a bright star with a Jetstream-like tail.

On March 5, the comet took its closest trip to Earth, skimming past just 93 million miles away. Don’t go grabbing the survival kit just yet; even at its closest the comet was still further away than our sun.

By the end of the week, visibility will become difficult without the assistance of a telescope or binoculars and by April, Pan-STARRS will have disappeared into the cosmos.

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