MT. GILEAD, N.C. – The stars aligned over Town Creek Indian Mound Saturday night as the historical landmark hosted its “Under the Stars” event.
Nearly 200 people came out to catch a glimpse of the waxing crescent moon, and with the help of high powered telescopes, the rings of Saturn and close ups of the Milky Way Galaxy were also enjoyed.
Upon arriving to the Indian Mound, guests walked the path through prairie fields of tall, flowering grasses, and were transported back in time to the era of the South Appalachian Mississipians, or more commonly called, the “Pee Dee” Indians.
Guests cautiously made their way through the guard tower before entering into the grassy open courtyard of the Indian Mound. Wooden fences and reconstructed, earthen buildings outlined the field, giving attendees a first-hand look at how life was like for the “Pee Dee” Indians who inhabited the mound from the 11th to 15th centuries.
Saturday’s Under the Stars event, lasting from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm, was a part of an annual series hosted by Town Creek Indian Mound, in which attendees have the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature and learn more about astronomy.
“The event description said total darkness,” explained Cristina De Aguilar, an attendee at the evening’s event. “I knew by the description that there would be no phone screens.”
Mother Christina Dietrich echoed this statement by adding, “there’s more [to life] than electronics,” and expressed her desire for her children to develop the same appreciate for nature that she was raised to have.
As the sky darkened, guests were treated to unobscured views of the waxing crescent moon as it set below the distant tree line, paving the way for a clear, dark, night sky. However, before the moon entirely set, attendees had the opportunity to utilize a site-provided telescope to witness the craters and mounds of the moon’s surface.
“It was fascinating to see all of the ridges and craters” proclaimed Dietrich.
New constellations came to view as the evening progressed, and the night’s sky provided guests the opportunity to have a clear view of planet Saturn. As expressed by De Aguilar, seeing the Saturn rings was a highlight of the event.
It was clear that she was not the only one to express such a sentiment about this opportunity. Attendees were lined up all night long, taking turns peering into facility-operated telescopes to get a detailed look at the planet and the iconic rings surrounding it.
Guests were also able lay back, relax, and take in the beauty of the stars. Kind and knowledgeable staff were on hand to answer questions and point people in the right direction of the constellations they were searching for. And in some cases, assist those who brought their own telescope to focus it upon their desired target.
This was the first “Under the Stars” event of the season, and according to Assistant Manager Daniel Alexi, the most highly attended of the year. Alexi went on to explain that the event actually sold out on EventBrite, and he had to add more tickets to the event listing, which is an exciting accomplishment for the organization.
The next “Under the Stars” event will be held on Saturday, October 14, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Guests of all ages are welcome, and are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
Town Creek Indian Mound is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information on this historic site and their variety of events, check out their website, www.towncreekindianmound.com, or find them on Facebook.