Highland Road Park Observatory
Monday, 14 April from 8:00 pm to midnight
Mars was known by the ancient peoples, since it is easily visible to the unaided eye.
The late 19th-century belief by some that there were “canals” constructed by intelligent beings led Percival Lowell to found an observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona in 1894.
In 2002 it was announced the Mars Odyssey spacecraft had detected water ice close to the surface of the Red Planet. And early in 2009 it was revealed that some sort of outgassing of methane is taking place on the surface. Both geological and biological processes can create methane. According to NASA, “If microscopic Martian life is producing the methane, it likely resides far below the surface, where it's still warm enough for liquid water to exist. Liquid water, as well as energy sources and a supply of carbon, are necessary for all known forms of life.”
In August 2012 the rover Curiosity set down in Gale Crater to begin our continued investigation of the planet to which we may soon visit.
Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are among the darkest-surfaced objects in the solar system. Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system.
Technically, since the Earth orbits faster than Mars, it will be the Earth which will swing close by the Red Planet. It does this every twenty-six months.
During this close approach, Mars resides in the constellation Virgo, with an apparent diameter of 15” and only about 92.6 million kilometers away. In October 2013, Mars’ apparent diameter was less than 4”. On this night Mars will be fewer than eight degrees from the Moon.
There will be two lectures during this period. At 8:00 pm, a talk will focus on Mars. At 10:00 pm, the presentation will focus on historic lunar eclipses.
During the first half of the event, there will be a game for younger kids. During the second half of the event, there will be a game for older kids.
Over $500 in prizes will be given away at International Astronomy Day on 10 May. The tickets are $5 each and will be sold during this time. The purchaser need not be present at IAD to win. All proceeds are deposits in HRPO’s BREC Foundation account.
Basic Overview of Mars
Created by Frederick J. Barnett on Friday, April 04, 2014 3:46:20 PM.