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Drake's spring observatory series to feature a stellar variety of topics

March 18, 2011
News Photo
The Drake Municipal Observatory

The Drake Municipal Observatory will kick-off its 2011 lecture series with an investigation on the science behind spring on Friday, March 18.

"Why Is There Spring?" will be held at 8 p.m. at the Drake Municipal Observatory, 4898 Observatory Rd. in Waveland Park on the west side of Des Moines.

Herbert Schwartz, an astronomy lecturer at Drake, serves as co-presenter of the lecture.

"We will discuss the different motions the earth is going through, and how these motions affect the earth," said Schwartz, who recently lent his expertise to Cityview for an article on the astrological implications of the constellations. "Obviously, rotation on its axis and revolution around the sun are well-known, but the earth is going though many other motions that affect the seasons as well as our perceptions of our universe."


The series, presented at 8 p.m. every Friday through May 6, consists of non-technical, illustrated presentations by Schwartz and Drake Professor of Astronomy Charles Nelson. Each discussion will be followed by the opportunity to view stellar objects through the observatory's large refracting telescope and several smaller reflecting telescopes.

This semester, Nelson and Schwartz will discuss:

*    March 25: "Happy Birthday, James T. Kirk" -- Does science fiction have a place in astronomy?

*    April 1: "Pranks A Lot!" -- How does the universe defy common sense to play tricks on its inhabitants?

*    April 8: "Thank You, Yuri Gargarin" -- What has space travel given us besides velcro and Tang?

*    April 15: "Death and Taxes" -- The fundamental forces of nature have been in place since the beginning of time.

*    April 22: "Searching for Earth II" -- What are the chances of finding another Earth-like planet with the capabilities to sustain life?

*    April 29: "Probing the Long Waves" -- How do radio telescopes gather information?

*    May 6: "Star Hopping" -- Explore the stars without computers or batteries.

The programs are 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. A parent or responsible adult must accompany children.

For more information, contact Drake's Department of Physics and Astronomy at 515-271-3141.

The Drake Municipal Observatory 2011 Lecture Series: "Why Is There Spring?"

When: Friday, March 18, at 8 p.m.

Where: The Drake Municipal
Observatory, 4898 Observatory Rd. in Waveland Park on the west side of
Des Moines.

Cost: Free and open to the public.