UTSA presents 'Friday Nights, Celestial Lights!'

By Daniel Boice
Adjoint Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

(Feb. 26, 2009)--Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) and enjoy the spectacle of the starry sky as you experience "Friday Nights, Celestial Lights!" Once a month, the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy will invite the public to the UTSA Science Building to view a multimedia presentation, look through the department's telescopes and learn about astronomy. All events are free and open to the public.

>> The first "Friday Nights, Celestial Lights!" event is 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 27 with a free screening of "Cosmic Voyage" in the Science Building Theater (2.01.12) on the 1604 Campus.

An interesting overview of the universe, the film narrated by actor Morgan Freeman was first shown in IMAX theaters. If the night sky is clear, telescope viewing will follow the movie at 7:30 p.m. on the Science Building fourth-floor patio. For sky observation there will be a 15-inch Newtonian telescope and several 8-inch Cassegrain telescopes. The theater and the roof patio are wheelchair accessible.

With a clear sky, there will be great views of Venus; the crescent moon; the constellations Orion, Gemini, Taurus and others; the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda galaxy. Saturn will be seen at the end of the session at 9:30 p.m.

In 1609, Galileo Galilei first used an astronomical telescope to observe the heavens, thus signaling a new era of exploration. In honor of this historic event, the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy celebrates IYA with the series featuring educational activities for children and families, telescope viewing of the night sky, multimedia presentations and films, and lectures by leading researchers, UTSA astronomers and space scientists.

The goal of the series is to communicate the impact of astronomy on society and culture over the last 400 years, while sparking interest in astronomy by a new generation of space explorers. The sky is always available for those who want to learn more about the universe.

For more information about this and upcoming events, e-mail Daniel Boice, Eric Schlegel, or Mark Jurena.

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