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 Tuesday, April 10, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Science on a Sphere unveiled at Fiske Planetarium
By Suzanne Traub-Metlay, Education Programs Manager

Today, Tuesday, April 10, Fiske Planetarium will formally unveil its newest acquisition, Science on a Sphere. Designed by NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory and powered by a donation from Hewlett Packard, "Science on a Sphere is a spectacular new way of viewing the Earth, planets and the universe," said Fiske Planetarium Director Doug Duncan. "It makes you feel like an astronaut floating above the Earth."

Generous contributions from private donors combined with pledges from interested CU programs and a grant from NOAA enabled Fiske Planetarium, a facility of the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, to purchase and install Science on a Sphere.

It is first and foremost an educational tool, and CU student docents at Fiske will be the first to learn how to operate it and make presentations to the public. CU classes are encouraged to use it—whether in astronomy, geology, geography, atmospheric sciences or any other subject.

Throughout 2007, Fiske staff will work on aligning the Science on a Sphere datasets and simulations with national and state science standards as well as college-level curricular needs. University and community college instructors may bring their students to Fiske to see a specific set of projections that supplement what is taught in the classroom. The dynamic projections use time-lapse effects to speed up real data that took months to collect—like the entire 2005 hurricane season, including Hurricane Katrina—into just a few minutes. Visitors can watch weather on Jupiter or check the location of the International Space Station as seen from Earth that day. The entire surface of Mars, Earth's moon or the moons of other planets can be seen at once as visitors walk around the hanging globe of Science on a Sphere.

The general public is invited to see demonstrations of Science on a Sphere during National Astronomy Day, Saturday, April 21, noon to 6 p.m. "We're proud to be a part of Astronomy Magazine's nationwide celebration this year," said Keith Gleason, manager of Sommers-Bausch Observatory. "The event is co-sponsored by Astronomy Magazine and Meade Telescopes, who are donating prizes including an 8-inch reflecting telescope for one lucky grand prize winner."

For a complete schedule of events, times, and locations, see the CU Astronomy Day webpage. For more information about Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory, call 303-492-5002 or visit the websites.

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