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Comet Hyakutake (1996 B2): Chicago Organized Viewing

PSF Media Release: 960315 For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Sipiera, President, PSF 847-854-0468

Catch Comet Hyakutake: A Comet for the Whole Family
Monday March 25, 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Harper College Observatory
Free Public Program for the Whole Family

Have your children ever seen a comet? If not, the month of March may be the perfect opportunity to introduce them to one of these vagabonds of the solar system. Well placed in the night sky of northern Illinois for viewing in late March will be Comet C/1996 B2 Hyakutake. This comet was discovered in January of this year by an amateur Japanese astronomer. Early predictions are that it may be the brightest comet to grace our evening sky since the 1976 appearance of Comet West.

During the days of its closest approach to Earth, Hyakutake will be a circumpolar object approaching to within 8 degrees the declination of Polaris, the North Star. The comet will make its closest approach to the Earth on March 25, when it will come to within almost 14.5 million kilometers of our fair planet. On this evening, the Planetary Studies Foundation, in cooperation with the Harper College Observatory, will be hosting a "Catch The Comet" observing session from 8:00pm until 10:00pm at the Harper College Observatory. Multiple telescopes and binoculars will be available at this event for visitors to use when observing the comet. Also on hand will be experts from the Planetary Studies Foundation to explain about comets, the night sky, and astronomical observing.

Prime time viewing for Illinois observers of Hyakutake will occur between March 22 and March 31. As the comet approaches perihelion, it will move from our evening sky into the predawn sky. On May 1, the comet will make its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) at a distance of only 34.4 million km. Following perihelion, Hyakutake will be lost to view for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

The Planetary Studies Foundation is a non-profit educational corporation chartered by the state of Illinois.

Harper College is located in Palatine IL at the intersection of Roselle and Algonquin Roads.

A Planetary Studies Foundation press release.
612 Chatham Circle Algonquin, IL 60102

PSF's Mission is to promote the study of planetary science and astronomy with emphasis on meteorites; and to sponsor, encourage and assist study in the physical, astronomical, earth and environmental sciences so as to broaden our knowledge of all phases of the universe. Our Vision is to create and operate an internationally renowned planetarium and center of excellence in the research, analysis and interpretation of our solar system.

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