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January 2005

Release Date: January 13, 2005

Planetarium Program to Examine Origin of Stars

The genesis of the stars, covering everything from what makes them shine to what they are made of, will be explored in "Clouds of Fire: The Origin of Stars," the new offering at the Angelo State University Planetarium Thursday evenings, beginning Jan. 20.

"Clouds of Fire" will be offered at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 20 through March 10, at the ASU Planetarium in the Vincent Building at 2333 Vanderventer on the ASU campus. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children, students and senior citizens.

Since earliest times, stars have intrigued men and women who most often found answers in their imagination 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 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 ASU astronomer Mark Sonntag. "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 from the Hubble Space Telescope of a star-forming gas and dust cloud called the Eagle Nebula. 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," said Sonntag. "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 stars ¯ both big and small ¯ have created a rich blend of elements that gradually mixed with other gas and dust, forming our own Solar System and everything that exists within.

For information on "Clouds of Fire" or the ASU Planetarium, please call 942-2136.