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March 2010

Release Date: March 17, 2010ASU Logo

ASU Planetarium Show Examines Facts, Myths of Mars

The facts, fiction, myths and legends of the planet Mars will be the focus of the Angelo State University astronomy show “Mars Quest,” beginning Thursday, March 25, in the ASU Planetarium.

Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays, March 25 through May 13. There will also be a special matinee presentation at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 27. The Planetarium is located in the ASU Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building, 2333 Vanderventer St.

The first section of “Mars Quest” traces Mars through history, starting with an “incantation” of the various war-god forms given to the planet by early cultures. It will then examine the early telescopic observations by astronomers Schiaparelli and Lowell as well as the infamous Mars “canals” that led to science fiction stories about Martians. Excerpts from H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom” novels will be included.

Next, “Mars Quest” describes recent studies of Mars documented through binoculars, telescopes and space explorations. Mission findings from NASA spacecraft feature reports on Mars’ weather, climate and potential for water. Martian climate and terrain are compared to the Earth’s, and current theories about the hydrologic history of the planet are presented as these studies strongly suggest a rationale for future exploration of Mars.

Finally, “Mars Quest” examines the place on Earth where we can best prepare to live on Mars, what will be needed to get manned missions to the planet and what the first Mars landing may be like.

Mars and Earth have a “close encounter” about every 26 months due to the differences in the two planets’ orbits. Now is a favorable time for viewing Mars and, weather permitting, a telescope will be set up for that purpose following each program.

“Mars Quest” is open to the public with admission prices of $3 for adults and $2 for children, students and senior citizens. ASU students, faculty and staff are admitted free.

For more information, call the ASU Planetarium at 942-2136.

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