Comet Pan STARRS To Light Up The Sky In March, Astronomers Announce

It may not be quite the 'Comet of the Century' predicted to light up the sky later this year, but it could still be spectacular.

A comet that shines as brightly as the stars of the Big Dipper will pass in front of the Earth in March.

Above: how to spot the comet

How comets react to the sun is difficult to predict. Researchers think it may either fall apart - and put on a short, "dazzling" show - or else slowly combust, producing a long bright tail in the process.

Either way the comet looks set to dazzle astronomers - and possibly anyone looking at the night sky with the naked eye - when it completes its journey from the outer reaches of the solar system.

"Because of its small distance from the sun, Pan-Starrs should be very active, producing a lot of dust and therefore a nice dust tail," said astronomer Matthew Knight of the Lowell Observatory in a release.

The comet was discovered in June 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System.

Meanwhile the Comet Ison is expected to shine even more brightly when it passes close to the Sun in November.

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