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Town Creek Under the Stars: Comet Watch!

Dusk image of the Milky Way Galaxy setting behind the guard tower at Town Creek Indian Mound

Event Description

Join us beneath one of the last great dark sky sites in the Piedmont of NC to catch a glimpse of Comet Wirtanen 46P!

This is a small comet with an orbital period of 5.4 years that was discovered by Carl A. Wirtanen in 1948. Comets sometimes become more spectacular to see after they have passed close to the Sun, which for this comet will be on December 12. It is expected to reach magnitude 3, well within naked eye visibility, and the clump of ice and rock will make its closest approach to Earth on December 16. Given the relatively close approach to the Earth, the nucleus of 46P should appear reasonably large in the sky, but rest assured that with a minimum distance of about 7.3 million miles from the Earth, you may need a good pair of binoculars to have any personal interaction with it.

The evening begins in the auditorium with "What's Up!," a presentation that provide some information about what to look for that night and a little associated folklore. Site telescopes will be available for viewing the comet, moon, and Mars. Be sure to dress for the weather, make sure those fingers and toes are well insulated! Telescopes, blankets and chairs are welcome. Free. Registration required at this ticket link. Contact Towncreek@ncdcr.gov or 910-439-6802 with any questions

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