Comet Viewing Party in Oregon Coast Range, Near Portland
(Hillsboro, Oregon) – That famed green comet is coming to the Portland/Washington County area – or at least a viewing party for the interstellar celebrity.
OMSI will host a viewing party for Comet Lovejoy on January 17, at Stub Stewart State Park near Vernonia, in the Oregon coast range. It goes from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and other skywatchers will be there to help you spot the tailed wonder.
The event, sponsored by OMSI, the Rose City Astronomers, and Oregon Parks and Recreations will have telescopes set up for attendees to use. OMSI Space Science Director, Jim Todd, will be presenting informal talks about the comet and the winter night sky. Other highlights include the viewing of planet Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
On the scheduled day of the Comet Viewing Party, it is suggested that interested visitors check the OMSI Star Parties web site http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations. The event starts at 5 p.m. and is free with $5 parking per vehicle. Warm clothing is a must, and a flashlight with red light is recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are always welcome.
To reach L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. The park is located 34 miles west of Portland. Comet viewing will take place at the day use area, at the top of the park.
In Oregon and Washington, the first two weeks of January will be the best viewing opportunities to see Comet Lovejoy as it approaches the Earth and sun. It has then moved rapidly to the northwest from Lepus, just west of Orion and into Taurus the Bull by January 9. See the printable chart here.
Lovejoy is hitting its brightest right about now, having reached its closest point to the Earth on January 7, some 43.6 million miles. It will reach it closest point to the sun on January 30 at 119.9 million miles.
“It is expected to reach a magnitude of 4.6, thus making it one of the brightest comets located high in a dark sky since the unexpected outburst of Comet Holmes in October 2007,” Todd said.
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