Stargazers capture images of comet

Story highlights

  • Comet Pan-STARRS gets its name from the telescope credited with discovering it
  • CNN iReporters and other astronomy enthusiasts captured great photos this week.
  • If you missed it, there may be another comet viewing opportunity later this year

Stargazers in North America were delighted this week to see a highly anticipated comet make an appearance in the March sky.

The comet is called Pan-STARRS, and it gets its funky name from the telescope credited with discovering it in June 2001: the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System in Hawaii.

Brian Karczewski, 24, got a great shot of the comet from a California church parking lot and submitted an iReport about it.

"I love astronomy and find astrophotography a good challenge," he said. "I was very excited to capture the comet next to the moon. Never photographed a comet before!"

Adam Block, program coordinator at the Mount Lemmon Sky Center at the University of Arizona, snapped his first Pan-STARRS picture March 10. He used a DSLR camera and a 300mm fixed lens.

"I took that image from my house in Tucson, and I was hoping to show that anyone, even from the city, can potentially see the comet!" he said in an e-mail.

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    Block also took some sharp images Tuesday against the background of a colorful twilight.

    "A bright comet in the sky is great for me since the universe is giving me a new and captivating way to inspire people as part of the experiences I offer at the observatory," he said.

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    If you missed Pan-STARRS, there may be another comet-viewing opportunity later this year.

    Comet ISON was discovered by Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok in September 2012. It's named after their night-sky survey program, the International Scientific Optical Network.

    On November 28, ISON is expected to dive into the sun's atmosphere. If it survives, it might glow as brightly as the moon and be briefly visible in daylight. Its tail might stretch far across the night sky.

    More space and science news from CNN Light Years.