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Look Up at Deep Impact on July 3

Comet Tempel 1 will appear near the bright star Spica and Jupiter on July 3.

At about 7:52 p.m. HST on July 3, Comet Tempel 1 will collide with the impactor from the Deep Impact spacecraft. Hawaii is one of the few parts of the world where it may be possible to view this event as it happens. The pre-encounter comet (about ninth magnitude) will be too faint to see without a telescope or really good binoculars, but it will be near two bright objects, the star Spica and Jupiter. You may find them by looking overhead and slightly to the southwest. (See complete finder chart.) For the best viewing, go to a dark site away from city lights.

This is an experiment, so no one knows exactly what will happen. The best guess is that at impact, there may be a bright flash of light that will look like a new bright star. You should be able to see it with the naked eye. After impact, the debris will gradually spread out and add to the comet's tail. It should be interesting to watch this change take place over the next night if you are away from the city lights or have binoculars or a small telescope.

If you don't want to comet-gaze on your own, or if sea-level skies are overcast, you may want to participate in the following activities (free unless noted) organized by the IfA, the Bishop Museum, NASA, and other groups (subject to change):

On Oahu: Bishop Museum's Comet Collision Countdown, 5:30-10 p.m. ($3 admission) Planetarium shows, activities for the family, NASA-TV, stargazing on the lawn with the Hawaiian Astronomical Society, and lectures by IfA astronomers. Contact: Carolyn Kaichi at 847-8203.
Sunset on the Beach, Waikiki. Before the movie, The Dish, which will start at 8:00 p.m., IfA astronomer Jonathan Williams will give a brief overview of Deep Impact with images of comet projected on screen and the feed from the NASA Web site. Contact: Mona Wood, 218-5546

On Hawaii: UH Hilo University Classroom Building, room 100, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Presentations and a discussion panel with astronomers from IfA and NASA, viewing of images of the comet from a telescope on Mauna Kea and the Faulkes Telescope on Maui, videoconference with astronomers observing the event on Mauna Kea. Contact: Gary Fujihara, 932-2328.
Visitor Information Station, Mauna Kea. Telescopes for public viewing. Contact: David Byrne, 961-2180.
Real-time observing on the Keck telescopes at Hualalai Lecture Theater, Waimea, 7-10 p.m. Contact: Laura Kraft, 885-7887.

On Maui: Maui Community College Auditorium, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Activities similar to those in Hilo, viewing through small telescopes on the grounds of MCC. Contact: Gary Fujihara (Hilo), 932-2328.

NASA Web pages: deepimpact.jpl.nasa.gov/ and www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/deepimpact/main/index.html
For information about activities in Hawaii: www.astroday.net/DeepImpactHawaii.html