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January 2004

Release Date: January 20, 2004

' Venus: Earth's Fiery Twin' to Open at ASU Planetarium

The Angelo State University Planetarium will examine Venus, the brightest object in our night sky other than the moon, with showings of "Venus: Earth's Fiery Twin"c Thursday nights Jan. 22 through March 11.

This year will mark a special one for Venus when it passes between Earth and the sun. This event of historical and scientific significance, called a transit of Venus, will occur June 8. The last time a transit of Venus occurred was in 1882, so no one alive today has ever witnessed this celestial event as the silhouette of Venus crosses the face of the Sun as seen from Earth.

The planetarium show will be offered at 8 p.m. Thursdays in the planetarium located in the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building at 2333 Vanderventer on the ASU campus. "Venus: Earth's Fiery Twin" is open to the public. Admission is $3 for adults, $1.50 for children and senior citizens. ASU students, faculty and staff are admitted free. For information, call 942-2136 or visit the planetarium Web site at

Venus will be visible over the next five months toward the west shortly after sunset. It appears to be an extremely bright star near the western horizon. Venus owes its great brilliance to its proximity to Earth it is our nearest planet and to its highly reflective clouds.

In many ways Venus is similar to Earth. It is about the same size and mass and must be made primarily of similar rocky materials. But the details of the surface features on Venus have been difficult to study from Earth.

Despite its proximity, many questions still remain. Why has Venus proven so hard to study? Does Venus have active volcanoes? How do features on Venus relate to those we see on Earth? These questions and more are answered in the planetarium show that incorporates the latest findings from the spectacular Magellan spacecraft mission to Venus.