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Observatory fall lecture series spotlights the sky

September 9, 2011
News Photo
A recent picture of the moon through the Drake Municipal Observatory telescope.

The Drake Municipal Observatory 2011 fall lecture series will begin on Friday, September 9, with "The Sky is Blue and I'm seeing Green," a talk that will explore the daytime sky, clouds and "sundogs" (bright spots that appear to ring the sun).

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 in Des Moines.

The Drake Municipal Observatory series, presented every Friday through October 28, consists of non-technical, illustrated presentations by Drake Astronomy Lecturer Herbert Schwartz, along with Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Charles Nelson. All lectures begin at 8 p.m.

The series theme this fall is "I Spy the Sky," with each lecture centering on a sky-themed topic.

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 fall, weekly topics are as follows:

  • Sept. 9: "The Sky is Blue and I'm seeing Green" -- The
    daytime sky, clouds and "sundogs" (bright spots that appear to ring the
    sun).
  • Sept. 16: "The Permanent Night Sky" -- Almost seasonal changes, Earth motion changes, and basic star navigation.
  • Sept. 23: "The Autumn Sky" -- Constellations and other visual objects and seeing with binoculars and a telescope.
  • Sept. 30: "The Winter Sky" -- Constellations and other visual objects and seeing with binoculars and a telescope.
  • Oct. 7: "The Spring Sky" -- Constellations and other visual objects and seeing with binoculars and a telescope. The oldest grouping and the newest add on.
  • Oct. 14: "The Summer Sky" -- Constellations and other visual objects and seeing with binoculars and a telescope.
  • Oct. 21: "The Other Sky Objects" -- Looking at the sun safely and finding comets, satellites and aurora.
  • Oct. 28: -- "The Christmas Telescope" -- How to shop for a telescope.

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.