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Drake Observatory series to explore scientific hoaxes

News PhotoThe spring series of public programs at the Drake Municipal Observatory will present a lecture on scientific hoaxes on Friday, April 2.

The event, titled “Hoaxes,” is free and open to the public. It will start at 8 p.m. at the observatory in Waveland Park on the west side of Des Moines, 4898 Observatory Road, off Polk Boulevard. Parking is available adjacent to the observatory.

The lecture will address scientific hoaxes and supposed hoaxes throughout history. “There have always been supposed facts in science that turn out to be hoaxes, such as reports of inhabitants on the moon,” said Herbert Schwartz of Drakes Department of Physics and Astronomy.

This semester’s series focuses on what astronomers and the general public believe to be truth, but often turn out to be wrong. Topics will include basic assumptions by the public regarding space and our universe, the doomsday predictions for 2012 and the countless questions astronomers have yet to answer.

Each week there is a non-technical, illustrated presentation by Charles Nelson and Schwartz. Every presentation is 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 welcomed to attend. A parent or responsible adult must accompany children.

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

  • April 9: “Fact vs. Fiction”
  • April 16: “Seeing Is Not Believing”
  • April 23: “The End of the World STAR PARTY”
  • April 30: “There Be Dragons!”
  • May 7: “The Mystery Remains”

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