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Drake's observatory series to examine science fiction versus scientific reality

March 25, 2011
News PhotoOn Friday, March 25, the Drake Municipal Observatory 2011 spring lecture series will continue with a discussion on reconciling science fiction with scientific reality.

The event, which is free and open to the public, 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.

Titled "Happy Birthday, James T. Kirk," the discussion will focus on whether or not there is a place for science fiction in the realms of astronomy and physics.

The Drake Municipal Observatory series, presented at 8 p.m. every Friday through May 6, consists of non-technical, illustrated presentations by Herbert Schwartz and Charles Nelson of Drake's Department of Physics and Astronomy. 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:

*    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: "Happy Birthday, James T. Kirk"

When: Friday, March 25, 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.