Comet PanSTARRS from the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, March 12, 2013. ( Wayne Baumgartner via Facebook )
The skies parted early Tuesday evening, and Comet PanSTARRS revealed itself above the western horizon for skywatchers in Washington, D.C.
Related: Aloha, PanSTARRS: cosmic snowball to sneak above our horizon
While faint, PanSTARRS appeared as a milky speck with a trailing blurred tail. The orange glow of the twilight sky, the rising crescent moon, and the comet made for quite the photographic trifecta.
We got several excellent photo submissions from our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr followers, which we share here.
Comet PanSTARRS and a young crescent moon descend on the Lincoln Memorial. ( Phil Yabut via Flickr ) Another view of PanSTARRS above the Lincoln set against the rising crescent moon. ( Andrew Bossi via Flickr ) 7 stacked 2-second exposures of PanSTARRS ( Phil Yabut via Flickr )
Finally, check out this time lapse sequence of PanSTARRS captured March 11 from San Simon, Arizona from NASA emeritus astronomer Fred Espenak
PanSTARRS is expected to become fainter over the next several weeks as it is lifts farther above the western horizon to the north, but should still be visible for the next few nights where skies are clear.
Map of PanSTARRS location in the sky through March ( NASA via EarthSky )
The comet is best seen in the hour after sunset in areas with an unobstructed view of the western horizon away from light pollution. Binoculars may required to see the comet, particularly in light-polluted areas.
Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.