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January 2008

Release Date: January 10, 2008

ASU Planetarium Show Examines Facts, Myths of Mars

The facts, fiction, myths and legends of the planet Mars will be the focus of “MarsQuest,” Angelo State University’s first 2008 astronomy program, beginning Thursday, Jan. 17, in the ASU Planetarium.

Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 17 to March 13. The Planetarium is located in the ASU Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building, 2333 Vanderventer.

The first section of “MarsQuest” 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, “MarsQuest” 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, “MarsQuest” 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.

“MarsQuest” 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, contact Dr. Mark Sonntag at the Planetarium, 942-2136.