Chinese Space Exploration
With the Chinese space program methodically building from one accomplishment to the next, and the Chang’e 3 lander’s rover Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) at the end of its baseline three-month science mission, we’ll look at the recent history and possible future of China’s space exploration efforts. A larger crewed space station and lunar-sample-return missions have already been announced as goals for the near future—what else might be in the offing?
Fri, April 25 | 8pm | Planetarium
Summer Star Party Planner
Gatherings of amateur astronomers to observe the evening sky are called “star parties,” and summertime presents good opportunities for beginners to attend these events without having to deal with winter’s cold and travel hazards. From local urban and suburban locations to high, dark mountains and deserts, we’ll clue you in on where and when to go, and what to bring to be a welcome star party visitor and participant. You will even have a chance to sign up for information about attending a star party this summer hosted by your humble lecturer.
Fri, May 2, 16 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
10-Day-Old Moon, Tiny Mars,
and Maybe a Peek at Saturn!
With twilight lingering as we move into summer, we’ll begin with quick discussion in the planetarium about our targets, then head outside to first view the waxing gibbous Moon. The prominent craters Copernicus and Tycho will be well lit, and most of Mare Imbrium will be visible. If the air is steady, we may glimpse the north polar cap of the tiny disk of Mars, and as a nightcap, we’ll chance a look at rising Saturn. If clouds intervene, we will view images of our intended targets indoors. Dress warmly!
Fri, May 9 | 8pm | Planetarium
Cassini’s Decade at Saturn
In 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn and entered orbit around the ringed gem of the solar system after a seven-year trip. The spacecraft continues to function, but the mission is winding down (and might even be on the budget chopping block). We will review the remarkable discoveries and images that Cassini produced in a decade at Saturn.
Fri, May 30, June 13 | 8pm | Planetarium
Special Observing Event:
8-Day-Old Moon, A Shadowed Faultline, and Saturn’s Rings
The evening sky will offer a nice look at the gibbous Moon and the rings of Saturn. After a quick observer’s primer in the planetarium, we will do some detailed observing of the Moon’s Rupes Recta (the “Straight Wall”) and Jupiter’s magnificent rings through a variety of telescopes, with assistance from local amateur astronomers. If clouds interfere, we’ll view high-resolution images in the planetarium. Dress warmly!
Fri, May 16 | 8pm | Planetarium
Summer Deep Sky Wonders
The wonders of the summer sky show us star birth and death, the raw material of planetary formation, mature stars in tight spheres of a million or more, younger stars in looser associations, and literally countless distant galaxies, each with billions of suns. We’ll look at beautiful images of some of the finest deep sky objects (DSOs), discuss what they seem to be telling us about our universe, and offer tips on where to go to view these beauties.
Fri, July 11, 18 | 8pm | Planetarium
With two years elapsed from the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, we’ll view images from Gale crater. We’ll also discuss early results from the mission, and review the status and science of the other craft already operating in Mars orbit or on the surface. Several new missions have been announced and approved recently, so we’ll also look at the future of Mars exploration.
Fri, July 25, August 1 | 8pm | Planetarium
With the first un-crewed test flight of NASA’s Orion exploration spacecraft scheduled this Fall, and several pivotal demonstrations of capability by the competitors for the NASA commercial crew program for the International Space Station scheduled for the first half of 2014, we’ll take a look at where home-grown American human spaceflight stands.
Fri, August 8, 15 | 8pm | Planetarium