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January 2009

Release Date: Jan. 14, 2009ASU Logo

ASU Planetarium Show to Explore the Origin of Stars

The genesis of stars, including everything from what they are made of to what makes them shine, will be examined in the new star show “Clouds of Fire: The Origin of Stars” beginning Jan. 22 in the Angelo State University Planetarium.

Show times for “Clouds of Fire” will be 8 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 22 through March 12, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14. The ASU Planetarium is located in the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building, 2333 Vanderventer.

Since earliest times, stars have intrigued men and women, who most often found explanations in their imaginations rather than in fact. Modern science, however, is helping answer questions ranging from what a star is to whether they are all alike. “Clouds of Fire” provides some of those answers and examines the connection between the creation of stars and the formation of everything else in the universe, from galaxies to planets to humans.

“People are amazed to learn that they are made of stardust,” said Dr. Mark Sonntag, director of the ASU Planetarium. “All matter, from stars to plants to people, comes from the same source. Everything in the universe has been connected since the beginning of time.”

As it explores the life and death of stars, “Clouds of Fire” utilizes images of a star-forming gas and dust cloud called the Eagle Nebula. Provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, these images allow scientists to peer into the inner workings of star cluster formation and better understand stars.

“In every show we try to feature at least one completely new visualization of something unusual in outer space,” Sonntag said. “For ‘Clouds of Fire,’ artists at Adler Planetarium in Chicago developed artwork for full-sky images, which shows the formation of the Eagle Nebula and the way the nebula evaporates over time to reveal a beautiful star cluster.”

In the long cycle of star birth and death, generation after generation of both large and small stars have created a rich blend of elements that gradually mixed with other gases and dust, forming our own solar system and everything that exists within.

Admission prices for “Clouds of Fire” are $3 for adults and $2 for children, non-ASU students and senior citizens. ASU students, faculty and staff are admitted free.

For more information, contact Dr. Sonntag in the ASU Planetarium at 942-2136.