County park offers viewing of passing comet
During the next couple of weeks, spectators are invited to visit the Astronomy Viewing Area at Broemmelsiek Park, 1615 Schwede Rd. (off Hwy. DD/Winghaven Blvd., south of O’Fallon) to get a glimpse of comet PANSTARRS as it dances across the western nighttime sky. Beginning at dusk on Friday, March 15, March 22, March 29, and April 5, members of the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (ASEM) will be hosting public viewings of PANSTARRS through binoculars and telescopes between 7:30 – 8:15 p.m. Witnessing a comet with the unaided eye is extremely rare and only occurs once every five to 10 years.
“With the assistance of the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, comet PANSTARRS cosmic presence is very visible at Broemmelsiek Park’s Astronomy Viewing Area,” said County Parks Director Bettie Yahn-Kramer.
ASEM members describe the comet, also referred to as comet 2011 L4, as being a cosmic icy dirtball that is only visible to the naked eye for short periods of time during late evening twilight. Discovered in June 2011, PANSTARRS bears the name of the telescopic survey that discovered it, “Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System,” which sits atop the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii.
Weather permitting, anyone interested in attending the rare comet PANSTARRS viewing is welcome; no reservations are required. For directions, please visit www.stccparks.org, or contact the St. Charles County Parks Department at 949-7535.
For more information about comet PANSTARRS, visit www.asemonline.org.