PARI to offer public program on upcoming comet

Here’s the press release from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute:

Rosman, NC (February 20, 2013) – The public is invited to a special program concerning the Comet PanSTARRS Friday, March 8 at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). The evening’s activities will include a tour of the PARI campus and celestial observations using PARI’s optical or radio telescopes.

“The astronomical world is eagerly awaiting the appearance of a newly-discovered bright comet in early March,” said PARI Astronomer Dr. Bob Hayward, who will discuss the comet as part of PARI’s monthly Evening at PARI series. “The comet is named for the Panoramic Survey and Rapid Response System telescope on Mount Haleakala in Hawaii with which it was discovered in June 2011. Astronomers anticipate PanSTARRS will be visible to the naked eye and may even be a ‘great’ comet, but comets are notoriously unpredictable. We encourage anyone who has an interest in night sky phenomena to attend this presentation.”

PARI Science Director Dr. Michael Castelaz will review the history and science of comets and Dr. Hayward will follow with specifics on how to observe PanSTARRS. Astronomers have determined that PanSTARRS will reach its closest point to the Sun inside the orbit of Mercury on March 10. At that time it should be visible low in the west in the evening twilight; binoculars will probably help. During the rest of March the comet will move farther north and higher in the twilight each evening. By the last few days of the month it will be very close to Polaris, the North Star. For the latest information on this potentially “great” comet go to HYPERLINK “skypub.com/panstarrs” skypub.com/panstarrs.

The Evening at PARI program will begin at 7:00 p.m. with the comet presentation, followed by a campus tour, a trip to the Exhibit Gallery and an observing session. The program will take place regardless of the weather so attendees are encouraged to dress appropriately for being outside and to wear comfortable walking shoes. Each participant will also have the opportunity to have a photo taken with a PARI telescope and will receive a subscription to the PARI newsletter and a 10% discount on PARI merchandise.

Reservations are required and will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. the day of the event. Evening at PARI programs cost $20 per adult, $15 for seniors/military and $10 for children under 14. Register and pay online at HYPERLINK “http://www.pari.edu” www.pari.edu or call (828) 862-5554. For additional information contact PARI Education Director Christi Whitworth at HYPERLINK “mailto:cwhitworth@pari.edu” cwhitworth@pari.edu.

About PARI

The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) is a public not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah Forest 30 miles southwest of Asheville, NC, the PARI campus was selected in 1962 by NASA as the site for one of the first U.S. satellite tracking facilities. Today, the 200 acre campus houses radio and optical telescopes, earth science instruments, 30 buildings, a fulltime staff and all the infrastructure necessary to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and research. PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research.


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