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Planetarium will host Astronomy and Space Day on March 3

Experienced star-gazers and people who have never even looked through a telescope are invited to attend a celebration of the heavens sponsored by Georgia Southern University’s Department of Physics.

The annual Astronomy and Space Day will be held on Saturday, March 3, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Georgia Southern Planetarium.

Free and open to the public, the festivities will include instruction on how to find specific planets and stars in the night sky, the presentation of a fascinating new video from NASA, and a display of moon rocks collected by the Apollo missions.

‘We want to bring the wonders and excitement of astronomy and space exploration to people of all ages throughout the community,” said Becky Lowder, the assistant director of the planetarium. ‘Everyone from adults to small children will find something that will help them gain a better understanding of the universe.”

Adding to the excitement of this year’s event is a total lunar eclipse, which will be in progress when the moon rises at approximately 6:22 p.m.

‘A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow of the Earth as the moon, the Earth and the sun are aligned,” Lowder explained. ‘The rays of sunlight are bent around the edge of the Earth and filtered through our atmosphere, and that turns the moon a shade of red.”

Astronomy and Space Day will feature hands-on demonstrations and a display of different kinds of telescopes. Members of the Department of Physics and the Statesboro Astronomy Club will be on hand to share their expertise with visitors, who can view sunspots during the day, and Saturn, Venus and the Orion Nebula at night.

Meanwhile, the planetarium will present its popular ‘star shows” at 4, 5, 6 and 7 p.m. Visitors will be given maps of the sky and the moon that will enable them to ‘star hop” and locate planets and constellations from their own backyards.

‘Cosmic Collisions” will be shown between each ‘star show.” Narrated by Robert Redford, this breathtaking program contains amazing images from space and stunning visualizations which reveal the explosive encounters that shaped the solar system.

In addition, visitors can enjoy ‘ViewSpace,” a multimedia production of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is the home of the Hubble Telescope. ‘ViewSpace” portrays the beauty and wonder of the universe while providing a deeper understanding of astronomy.

Also, children and their parents can work together to create and decorate their own paper ‘air rockets,” which they can launch and take home.

‘With all of these activities, it’s going to be a spectacular afternoon and evening under the stars as we have fun exploring astronomy and space exploration,” Lowder said.

The Georgia Southern Planetarium is housed on the first floor of the Math/Physics Building, which is located across Herty Drive from Hanner Fieldhouse.

For more information, visit http://cost.georgiasouthern.edu/planetarium or call (912) 681-5292.

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