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Comet PanSTARRS and Waxing Crescent Moon

Comet PanSTARRS (left) and the waxing crescent moon (lower right) set over the Arlington, Va.

Comet PanSTARRS (left) and the waxing crescent moon (lower right) set over the Arlington, Va., skyline near the National Science Foundation headquarters on March 12, 2013. The comet, which was discovered in 2011, made its closest approach to the sun--about 45 million kilometers (28 million miles)--in February 2013 and was visible to the naked eye.

The comet's name is the acronym for the telescope with which it was discovered--the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, located atop Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. Astronomers use the massive 1.8 meter telescope to scan the heavens for Earth-approaching objects--both asteroids and comets--that might pose a danger to our planet.

To learn more about PanSTARRS, see the NASA news story A Possible Naked-eye Comet in March. (Date of Image: 2012)

Credit: Andrew W. Clegg, National Science Foundation
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