Town Creek Holds Monthly Astronomy Night
February's Astronomy Night at Town Creek Indian Mound offers up a few exciting celestial objects for viewing -- two planets and a comet.
On Saturday, Feb. 21, at 6 p.m., stargazers will have an opportunity to view the planet Venus at its brightest for the year.
"If you've been watching the western skies at sunset, then you've seen the brightest 'star' in the sky right now," says a spokeman. "But it's no star, it's Venus."
Venus will reach a magnitude of 4.6, which is seven to eight times greater than Sirius (the actual brightest star in the sky). Another favorite for amateur astronomers is the planet Saturn. Saturn is situated in the constellation Leo and will rise in the eastern skies later in the evening. Although it will be quite faint in 2009, only a magnitude 0.6, its rings are always a treat to view.
And following not far behind Saturn and the constellation Leo will be the newly discovered Comet Lulin. This comet was found by Quanzhi Ye (Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China) on three images obtained by Chi-Sheng Lin (Institute of Astronomy, National Central University, Jung-Li, Taiwan) July 11, 2007, and was first thought to have been an asteroidal object.
"And based on the orbit of the comet, it may be passing through our solar system for the very first time," says the spokesman.
Comet Lulin will come closest to Earth Feb. 24, making February's Astronomy Night the best time to view this comet at its brightest before it begins to fade away in early March.
Monthly astronomy events at Town Creek Indian Mound are free and open to the public. Those interested in participating are encouraged to bring personal telescopes and binoculars. The site will have its two telescopes on hand for observation. Participants may bring blankets or chairs for outside viewing and are advised to dress for the weather.
Registration for this event is required. Call (910) 439-6802 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The historic site is located on Town Creek Mound Road approximately five miles east of Mt. Gilead, in southern Montgomery County between N.C. 73 and N.C. 731. For more information on Town Creek, visit www.towncreek.nchistoricsites.org.
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