CU-Boulder Expands Star Talks At Fiske Planetarium This Spring

January 7, 1998

The University of Colorado at Boulder is expanding its popular “star talk” series at Fiske Planetarium, offering the public more opportunities to hear live presentations by CU astronomers this spring.

Programs will be presented on Wednesday and Friday evenings. Talks start at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Star talks are intended for adults and children age 12 and over. The presentations include use of the planetarium star projector, special effects and the latest images from NASA and major observatories.

Sommers-Bausch Observatory adjacent to the planetarium will be open following Friday evening programs, weather permitting. There, visitors can view the night sky through 16- and 18-inch telescopes.

Following is a list of star talks scheduled for this spring:

• Katy Garmany, “Constellations and Calendars,” Jan. 16, Jan. 21

As the next millenium approaches, discover the way people kept track of time in previous millenia. Modern people keep time with vibrating quartz crystals and oscillating cesium atoms. But before the first clocks were invented, the only time piece was the sky. Professor Katy Garmany recaptures some of the mystery of the sky and the magic of keeping time with sundials and tracking the calendar through constellations.

• Andrew Hamilton, “Black Holes and Relativity,” Feb. 4, Feb. 6

Learn about some of the strange predictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity, including one prediction that Einstein himself did not believe -- that black holes exist. See the astronomical evidence, including Hubble Space Telescope pictures, that black holes do exist, from stellar-sized black holes to gigantic black holes at the centers of quasars. In the show’s finale, experience what it would look like to fall into a black hole.

• John Bally, “Galactic Recycling,” Feb. 25 (one presentation only)

What would the night sky look like if you could see it with infrared or radio eyes? Learn about the origin of the elements, the life and death of stars, and the constant cycling of matter between stars and the interstellar medium of the Milky Way.

• John Stocke, “Navajo Skies,” March 6, March 11

Professor John Stocke will present a view of the sky as seen by the people of the Navajo nation. Examine some traditional American Indian star and constellation myths, and explore the relationship between the cycle of life and the rhythm of the heavens.

• Doug O’Neal, “The Inconstant Stars,” April 3, April 8

Since ancient times, people have regarded the stars and the sun as perfect, eternal and changeless. Professor Doug O’Neal shares images of the various types of variable stars and insights they have provided into the way the sun works. Does the fact the sun is not absolutely constant have consequences for Earth’s climate?

• David Grinspoon, “Earth’s Twin Planet: Venus,” April 22 (one presentation only)

Professor David Grinspoon treats the audience to views of the planet Venus from pre-history to modern astronomy. Delve into the mythological personalities attributed to Venus by different cultures and the history of telescopic and spacecraft exploration of Venus, including the recent Magellan radar mapping imagery of the planet’s surface. A summary of recent discoveries and ideas include comparative environmental studies of Venus and Earth.

• Erica Ellingson, “Galaxies at the Edge of the Universe,” May 1, May 6

What would the night sky look like if we could see beyond the stars to the billions of galaxies that populate our universe? Take a trip beginning with our galaxy, the Milky Way, through the local group of galaxies and the local supercluster, extending to the outer reaches of the observable universe.

Fiske Planetarium is located at Regent Drive and Kittredge Loop Drive on the CU-Boulder campus. Free visitor parking is available after 5 p.m. at the meters along Regent Drive, or in metered lots 306 and 330 off of Regent Drive.

Admission is $3.50 for adults and $2 for seniors and children. For more information about programs at Fiske Planetarium, call 492-5001 for a recorded announcement, or 492-5002 to speak to planetarium staff. The public also is invited to visit the planetarium’s homepage at http://www.colorado.edu/fiske/.

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