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Drake Observatory series to explore work of French astronomer Charles Messier

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Charles Messier

MEDIA CONTACT: Tory Olson, 515-271-1834, tory.olson@drake.edu

The spring lecture series at the Drake Municipal Observatory will focus on the work of 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier, who discovered many comets and in 1771 published the Messier Catalog, which includes more than 100 astronomical objects.

The series will begin on Friday, March 20, with a presentation titled “Who was Charles Messier and What Was He Looking For?”  

The event will start at 8 p.m. in the observatory at 4898 Observatory Road in Waveland Park on the west side of Des Moines. Parking is available adjacent to the observatory.

The series, which is free and open to the public, will continue each Friday at 8 p.m. through May 8 with a non-technical, illustrated presentation by Charles Nelson or Herbert Schwartz of Drake University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Each presentation will be followed by the opportunity to view several stellar objects through the large refracting telescope and several smaller reflecting telescopes.

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.

The schedule for the remainder of the spring series is listed below:

  • March 27: “The Messier Clusters”
  • April 3: “The Messier Galaxies, The Spirals”
  • April 10: “The Messier Galaxies, Non-Spiral and Irregular Galaxies”
  • April 17: “The Nebula: Planetary”
  • April 24: “The Nebula: Star Forming”
  • May 1: “The Special Messier Objects”
  • May 8: “Other Star Catalogs”

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