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Town Creek Under The Stars December 15th(Wirtanen Comet)

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Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site

509 Town Creek Mound Road

Mount Gilead, NC 27306

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We will get started in the auditorium with our "What's Up!" presentation at 6:30pm. This will provide some information about what to look for that night and a little folklore associated with it. Then, join us outside for an evening beneath one of the last great dark sky sites in the North Carolina piedmont. Site telescopes will be available, or bring your own to observe the first quarter Moon, Mars and the Wirtanen comet if visable. Notable constellations include Taurus, Pleiades and Draco.

Comet Wirtanen(46P) 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. You may lose some sleep staying up to catch a glimpse of this spectacle, 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 46P.

Participants should dress for the weather and may wish to bring a red light to help them see in the darkness. Chairs and blankets welcome!

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Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site

509 Town Creek Mound Road

Mount Gilead, NC 27306

View Map

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