An amateur astronomer from Codnor is urging Derbyshire folk to keep their eyes on the skies - as a large comet passes by earth this week.
Painter and decorator Trevor Smith has spent more than £8,000 kitting out a garden shed as a home-made observatory.
But Ripley and Heanor folk will not need his 8ft by 6ft telescope to witness the little-known comet titled ‘2011 Panstaars’, he says, which will be visible to the naked eye at sunset until Monday, March 25.
He said: “Comets are so rare to see really, especially bright ones and comets you can see with the naked eye. This is too good an opportunity to miss and you won’t need a telescope or binoculars to see it.”
Panstaars, named after the Hawaiian observatory which discovered it, will appear low down on the western horizon just after sunset. Trevor says it will look like a small ‘fuzzy’ star with a fan or tail pointing away from the sun.
“Although the comet will not be overly bright over our skies , it should still put on a beautiful show during the next few days,” He added.
Trevor has been an amateur astronomer for 40 years and intends to chart the movement of the space object over the next few days - providing we have some clear skies. But it will also be a chance to have the neighbours round. “I’ll get a lot of visitors using the observatory,” he said “People are always popping round wanting to have a look - I’m always happy for them to.”
Trevor first took up astronomy when he laid hands on a copy of Patrick Moore’s Observer’s Book of Astronomy, aged ten.
He said: “I think it gives us a perspective of the universe. It shows us how small we are in the grand scheme of things.”