View sunset, Comet Lovejoy on Jan. 17 at Town Creek

MOUNT GILEAD –A spectacular sunset, amazing planets closely paired, and a comet that will next visit in 8,000 years offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to marvel at the night sky! Town Creek Indian Mound will host “Town Creek Under the Stars” Saturday, Jan. 17, 5:30 – 10 p.m.

This beautiful dawn photo of Comet Lovejoy over Santiago de Chile was taken on Dec. 22, 2011 by ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky.

This beautiful dawn photo of Comet Lovejoy over Santiago de Chile was taken on Dec. 22, 2011 by ESO Photo Ambassador Yuri Beletsky.

As the sun sets, sky watchers can view Venus and Mercury set side by side, Mars and Neptune racing toward the horizon, and once the skies go dark, Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) will pass overhead as it did 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

“It’s rare to catch a glimpse of Neptune,” says Site Manager Rich Thompson, “the added bonus of comet Lovejoy makes this one of our most unique programs for 2015.”

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is the fifth comet to be discovered by Brisbane amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.  He discovered the comet in August 2014 and it has been giving amateur astronomers a great show ever since.  The comet should be high in the moonless sky and will be at its brightest.

Town Creek Indian Mound was also featured in Our State Magazine’s “10 Places to Enjoy the North Carolina Night Sky.”

Interested stargazers are encouraged to dress for the weather. Participants may also bring binoculars and telescopes. The staff will have a scope available if you do not have one. Advanced registration is requested by calling or emailing the site. This event is free and open to the public but donations are welcome.  Please contact the site at 910-439-6802 or at towncreek@ncdcr.govto register.

For more than 1,000 years, American Indians farmed lands later known as North Carolina. Around A.D. 1000, a new cultural tradition arrived in the Pee Dee River Valley. Throughout Georgia, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and western and southern Piedmont North Carolina, inhabitants built earthen mounds for their leaders, engaged in widespread trade, supported craftspeople, and celebrated a new religion.

The mission of Town Creek is to interpret the history of the American Indians who once lived here.  The visitor center features interpretive exhibits and audiovisual displays.  A national historic landmark, Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site is North Carolina’s only state historic site dedicated to American Indian heritage.  Tour groups are welcome and encouraged. The site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.  It is closed to the public Mondays and most major holidays.

The historic site is within the Division of State Historic Sites and located at 509 Town Creek Mound Road, Mount Gilead, NC, 27306. For more information on Town Creek, visit www.towncreekindianmound.com.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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