UNCP brings Mars to local residents

First Posted: 1/15/2009

PEMBROKE - There will be a public viewing of the planet Mars from 7:30 – 9 p.m., Nov. 7 – 8 at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke's new observatory.
Located next to Oxendine Science Building, UNCP’s observatory is open to the public on the second Tuesday of each month. The event is sponsored by the UNCP Department of Chemistry and Physics.
&#8220This will be an excellent time to see Mars close-up,” said Jose D’Arruda, Ph.D. &#8220With our 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope, we should be able to see many surface features of the red planet, such as ice caps and canals.”
D’Arruda and several of his astronomy students will be guides.
&#8220During 2005, Mars will not be as close to Earth as it was in the last apparition of Mars in 2003, however it will be higher in our sky, so every astronomy enthusiast will have the opportunity to see and enjoy Mars,” D’Arruda said.
In early fall, Mars will look like a bright reddish-white star in the constellation Aries. In late September and early October, it will enter the constellation Taurus, D’Arruda said. It will rise in the sky by 7 p.m. and will be overhead in the southern sky about midnight. Without binoculars or a telescope, Mars is clearly visible and is brighter than any star in the night sky, and does not twinkle like a star.
With binoculars, viewers may be able to see that Mars is a disk, not a point of light like the stars, he said. But with a good telescope, like UNCP’s 16-inch Meade telescope, this will be a good opportunity to see surface features on Mars.
During October and November 2005, Mars will look like a blazing, orange-yellow star in the night sky. Usually, Mars is less obvious. The &#8220Red Planet” comes close enough for such exceptional viewing only once or twice every 15 to 17 years.
A schedule of public viewings is available on the Web at http://www.uncp.edu/observatory/index_observatory.htm or by calling the Department of Chemistry and Physics at 521-6247.

– This article was contributed by the office of public relations for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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