Saturday March 09, 2013 | 03:08 PM
Posted by David Epstein

What a great winter day here in Maine. Abundant sunshine, mild temperatures and generally light winds.  You couldn't have asked for a nicer March day and I hope you got a chance to enjoy it.

Tonight as the sun sets we may get a chance to see a celestial treat.  Comet Pan-STARRS is going to be visible in the southwestern sky just after sunset. The comet Pan-STARRS is going to be at its brightest tomorrow night, but with clouds in the forecast tonight will provide some great viewing. See the image below from Sky and Telescope.  This may not be the easiest object to spot, but give it a try if you can.  There have been conflicting reports on how bright it will turn out. 

A lot of times these heavenly shows are late at night, this one occurs just a bit after sunset.   The comet will make its closest approach to the sun tomorrow after coming within a 100 million miles of the earth a few days ago.

This comet was only recently discovered two years ago and will not come around again for 100 million years, if it survives that long. Originally, it was suppose to be very bright, but now it is reported to still be visible with the naked eye.

This comet is called a "Sun-grazer" comet because it passes  so "close" to the sun.  The comet will come within 45 million miles of the sun and this is why it can brighten brilliantly.

In order to see the comet you need a relatively dark spot and an unobstructed view of the southwestern sky.  This can be difficult to find here in New England with all of our trees and light pollution.  If you miss the show tonight there is another comet later this year.
Comet ISON will streak across the sky in November.  If this comet survives, it could be the brightest one in a generation, but we won't know more until it gets closer to the end of the year.

I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Please send me a picture if you see the comet Gardening this week You might notice there are a lot of seeds in the stores already. This is a great time of the year to start your own flowers and vegetables. Check the back of the seed packet to see how many weeks before you put your plants outside you need to start them. Warm weather crops like tomatoes can be started now. I will continue to start seeds for the next several weeks.

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About the Author

David Epstein has been a meteorologist for more than 25 years. He spent 16 years in Boston and currently freelances at WGME13 in Portland.

In 2006, David founded, a business producing educational and marketing videos for the green industry. He currently is a professor at Framingham State College, teaches Jan Plan at Colby College and owns Bloomscapes Inc., a landscape design business.

David authored "Gardens Of New England" and his work has been published in Grolier's Science Annual for 10 years. He lives in South Natick, Mass., and has a summer home in Harpswell.

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