Stargazer snaps comet in night sky over North Devon
Stargazer John Parratt has snapped a photograph of a comet which can be seen in the night sky over North Devon.
John, who writes a monthly astronomy column for the North Devon Journal, took the picture on Monday evening.
He said: "Comet 2011 L4 PANSTARR can now be seen in the western evening sky about an hour or so after the sun has set and the skies are just getting dark. The comet can be seen low in the sky.
"It can be seen for an hour or so, before it goes below the horizon. The comet is quite bright and as the sky gets dark can be seen with the naked eye. Seen through binoculars it is great and seen through a small telescope it's fantastic. It glistens in the night sky with its tail pointing up."
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John said the comet can be seen for a number of weeks as it travels through the night sky, but will start to dim as it does so. At present it is heading towards and will pass M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy) around the beginning of April.
Video: Comet PANSTARRS Appearance in evening sky.
He explained: "The comet was discovered in 2011 by PANSTARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System). The system was designed and developed by University of Hawaii's Institute of Astronomy to pan the skies for asteroids or comets that may threaten the Earth. It is a set up of small mirrors and large digital cameras that scan and photograph large areas of the sky several times a month. That data is logged on a computer data base."
For more information on astronomy in North Devon contact the North Devon Astronomical Society at www.northdevonastronomy.co.uk.