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Drake observatory hosts public star series

Students at Drake University will have an opportunity to learn about stars and their properties this fall during Public Nights at the Drake Municipal Observatory.

This Friday’s topic is “Stars Become Colorful,” which will explore the colors of stars and what they reveal about their nature.

“Stars come in a variety of sizes, luminosities, temperatures, colors… All of these contain information that scientists use to address questions about the structure, origin and fate of stars,” said Charles Nelson, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Those who are interested in stars are urged to come to the Public Nights to get a crash course in a topic that people might not otherwise get the chance to learn about.

“Public Nights are opportunities for the public to come out and hear a popular entertaining presentation about astronomy and to observe planets, stars, nebulae and other astronomical objects through the telescope,” Nelson said.

While Drake offers astronomy classes throughout the year, these special series are open to everyone on Friday nights during September and October, as well as during the spring and summer seasons.

Students along with the general public are welcome to go out to the observatory and hear “an informal, enjoyable talk on the topic.”

“I find most people have a great interest in the stars,” said Lauren Breman, professor of astronomy at Drake.

The Public Nights are not only informational, but also fun for those who come, and not “one bit boring,” Breman said.

Nelson also added that students would have an opportunity to look through the main telescope that will give “superb images of the planets and brighter celestial objects.” Seeing views that the naked eye cannot see is only one incentive for those who go.

If the weather is clear, Friday night attendees may also be able to go up into the dome of the observatory, look through the telescope and actually see the colors of stars that are showing that evening.

The observatory located on the grounds of the Waveland Golf Course is open to the public every Friday at 8 p.m. free of charge during the fall series.

“We typically have 50-75 people each night and significantly more on clear nights,” Nelson said.

Since this season’s topic is “Starry Skies and Starry Eyes,” the topics featured every Friday will encompass stars and their properties as well as some fun explorations into how the sun works.

The fall series began Sept. 10 with a presentation on “Ancient Views,” and the series will end on Oct. 29, with the topic “Fantasy Becomes Reality,” which will look into stars that defied description only a few generations ago.

“We can also use things we learn about the stars to learn about other kinds of astronomical objects such as galaxies, supwernovae and star clusters,” Nelson said.

For more information about the Drake Municipal Observatory, or to learn more about the topics presented, visit the observatory website at drake.edu/artsci/physics/observatory.html.


Drake Observatory at the Waveland Golfcourse


Friday Sept. 24   8 p.m.




Horsch is a junior news/Internet and rhetoric double major. She serves as the TD's Editor-in-Chief. She has been on staff for three years and has been the editor since January 2012.

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