Monday, September 17, 2007

[FOTHP]Sept Public Astronomy Lecture Series

Friends of the Hudnall Planetarium,

Tyler Junior College & Hudnall Planetarium
present the
Fall 2007
Public Astronomy Lecture Series & Star Party

Speaker: Justin Parrish
Topic: "The Bright Side of Dark Matter"
Date/Time: Saturday, September 22, 2007
Where: Apache Room 2, Rogers Student Center on TJC Main Campus

The Public Astronomy Lecture Series (PALS) is an astronomical outreach program of Hudnall Planetarium intended to keep the public informed of recent news, events and discoveries related to astronomy and space science. The series consists of monthly programs presented by instructors, experts, and other academic and scientific professionals. Each lecture is open to the public.

The next lecture of the series will be held at the TJC Main Campus in Rogers Student Center, Apache Room 2 on Saturday, September 22, 2007, beginning at 7:00 PM. The presentation will be given by Justin Parrish on the topic of "The Bright Side of Dark Matter". Justin Parrish is the former president of the Astronomical Society of East Texas. The lecture will take a look into techniques used to find matter that we cannot see.

Following the lecture, as weather permits, the Astronomical Society of East Texas will host a Star Party for naked-eye and telescopic viewing of the night-time sky. Large and small telescopes will be on hand for viewing the moon, planets, and interesting sky objects. Astronomical Society members will also be available for questions and discussions concerning telescopes, constellations, and celestial happenings.

Seating for each lecture is limited, and doors will open one-half hour before each lecture. Advance tickets may be purchased at the TJC Cashier's Office in the White Administrative Services Building on the TJC Main Campus. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for students and senior adults. Hudnall Planetarium is located in the heart of the Tyler Junior College main campus near the intersection of Mahon Avenue and Lake Street. Free parking is available.

For more information contact Hudnall Planetarium at 903-510-2312 or visit the website at

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Hudnall Planetarium Newletter

Friends of the Hudnall Planetarium,

To See the Wanderers, Follow the Moon

Have you ever seen the wanderers? The wanderers look just like stars, but they're very different. The wanderers are easy to spot with your unaided eye, and, if you watch them over the course of a few weeks or months, they hold true to their name. They appear to wander around erratically in the sky staggering through the constellations, sometimes backing up as if in a drunken stupor, and then lazily lumbering forward again. They are very odd things, these wanderers. This meandering behavior of the wanderers led ancient skywatchers to ascribe mystical powers to them. The ancient Greeks even named each of the wanderers after their gods: Zeus, Kronos, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Ares. But today we call them by their Roman names: Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, and Mars. That's right; the wanderers are actually the planets. In fact, the word planet is Greek for wanderer.

So, have you ever seen the planets? If you haven't, then it's time to fix that experiential gap. But where do you look? You see, that's the problem. Since the planets look just like stars to the unaided eye, how can you tell if you're looking at a star or a planet? Well, now you have a solution. Over the course of the next month you have the opportunity to easily spot four of the five brightest planets by following the Moon.

Start on September 17 when the Sun is below the horizon and it is just beginning to get dark. You should be able to easily spot the crescent Moon low in the southwest. Now look just above and a bit left of the Moon. That bright star is actually the planet Jupiter. Be careful. Antares is another bright star in the area, but it is dimmer and has a reddish appearance. It is also closer to the Moon than Jupiter. With a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you might be able to see bands across Jupiter's face and possibly spot one or more of Jupiter's bright moons.

Next on the morning of October 2 go outside and look up high in the south. Around 6:00am you should see the Moon at approximately the third quarter phase. This time face south and look to the face of the Moon. That reddish looking star is the planet Mars. With a pair of binoculars, you should be able to see that Mars is not a point of light like a star, but the sight is not very impressive because Mars will appear tiny.

Then on the morning of October 7 you can see two more planets. Go outside around 6:00am, but this time look east. There on either side of the waning crescent Moon are the planets Saturn and Venus. Venus will be the bright one above the Moon. Saturn will be dimmer, but will be the star closest to the Moon between the eastern horizon. With your binoculars, you may be able to see the rings of Saturn. If you turn your binoculars toward Venus, you might be able to see the phase of Venus.

That's it for the wanderers. Now go out and enjoy your universe.

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