The Webb Telescope, star of Lookout’s July astronomy evening

The James Webb Space Telescope focuses on the bright star in the center for alignment assessment. This image of the star called 2MASS J17554042+6551277 uses a red filter to optimize visual contrast. Photo: NASA/STScI

Check out the James Webb Space Telescope that NASA launched in December during the upcoming Astronomy Night at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The free, family-friendly event at the Dark Sky Certified International Park is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 15 at the Harkers Island Visitor Center by the sea.

Kicking off the evening will be a 45-minute chat with NASA Solar System Ambassador Matthew Bruce on the Webb, which organizers say “is the largest, most powerful space telescope and the most complex ever built and launched into space”. The first images captured by the telescope can be viewed.

Immediately following the presentation, park staff and astronomers from the Crystal Coast Stargazers, an astronomy club in NASA’s Night Sky Network, will host a star party on the Visitor Center grounds. Attendees will be able to get a close-up view of the moon and other astronomical objects above the southern Outer Banks using a telescope.

While stargazing depends on the weather, the programs are rain or shine.

Please monitor the weather or call the Harkers Island Visitor Center at 252-728-2250 by 5 p.m. on the day of the event to confirm status.

The organizers recommend dressing for the weather. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets, water, snacks, insect repellent and a flashlight with a red filter that helps maintain everyone’s night vision. Leave pets at home.

People can also consider bringing their own telescopes to learn how to get the most out of their own telescopic equipment from Stargazers club members.

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