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Drake's Spring Observatory Programs start Friday

March 13, 2006

CONTACT: Charles Nelson, (515) 271-3034, charles.nelson@drake.edu
Lisa Lacher, (515) 271-3119, lisa.lacher@drake.edu


The spring series of Friday evening public presentations at the Drake Municipal Observatory will begin at 8 p.m. Friday, March 17, at the observatory in Waveland Park on the west side of Des Moines. The series, presented by Herbert Schwartz and Charles Nelson of Drake’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, will focus on “Life in Our Solar System?”


Each week there will be a non-technical, illustrated presentation on an astronomical topic followed by the opportunity to view several stellar objects through the large refracting telescope and several smaller reflecting telescopes. The program will be held regardless of the weather, although the selection for observation is subject to change due to sky conditions or other special circumstances.


Individuals, families and small groups are welcome to attend the presentations, which begin at 8 p.m. each Friday from March 17 through May 5. Children must be accompanied by a parent or an adult who is responsible for them.


The schedule for the spring series is listed below:



  • March 17: What is life? What is needed for life?
  • March 24: Our solar system: Where did it come from and what are the life-making materials available?
  • March 31: Earth: Physical attributes and materials available for life
  • April 7: Mercury and Venus: Physical attributes, geologic activity, possibilities of life and exploration of the planets’ surfaces
  • April 14: Mars: Physical attributes, geologic activity, possibilities of life, ongoing surface exploration and a future landing
  • April 21: Jupiter and Saturn: Physical attributes, weather, the possibility of life on one or more of the moons
  • April 28: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto: Physical attributes and temperature as well as the classification of Pluto as a planet
  • May 5: Comets, Asteroids and Meteors as well as the Kuyper Belt and Oort Cloud: Life as an interplanetary visitor.

For more information, contact the Department of Physics and Astronomy at (515) 271-3141.