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Planetarium offers holiday party, discussion on comets

by Cindy Hess, communications and marketing last modified Nov 22, 2013 09:09 AM

Party planners at the University of Louisville’s Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium are hoping Comet ISON will be their guest of honor at a Dec. 7 holiday party.

But the comet might be obliterated before the event.

“Comet ISON could be the brightest comet we’ve seen in decades,” said planetarium director Tom Tretter. “But first, it has to survive a close encounter with the sun, which is expected to happen Thanksgiving Day.”

The planetarium’s 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. party Dec. 7 will feature holiday-themed activities for children, laser-light shows in the dome and comet cones (snow cones). The cost is $5 per person.

At 4 p.m. Tretter will offer a free, public talk, “ISON: An Icy Winter Tail.” He will discuss how comets are formed, why earlier civilizations thought they were harbingers of doom and what scientists can learn from comets. Photos and illustrations will be shown on the planetarium dome, but Comet ISON won’t be included unless NASA is able to provide an image in the next few weeks.

Tretter said the presentation will follow the holiday party “no matter what” but hopes the comet will survive so interest in the topic is heightened.

To learn more about the holiday party at the planetarium, see www.louisville.edu/planetarium or call 502-852-6665.

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