Astronomy for the Rest of Us: Free Noon Program on June 7

This little-known galaxy, officially named J04542829-6625280, but most often referred to as LEDA 89996, is a classic example of a spiral galaxy. The galaxy is much like our own galaxy, the Milky Way. The disc-shaped galaxy is seen face on, revealing the winding structure of the spiral arms. Dark patches in these spiral arms are in fact dust and gas — the raw materials for new stars. The many young stars that form in these regions make the spiral arms appear bright and bluish. The galaxy sits in a vibrant area of the night sky within the constellation of Dorado (The Swordfish), and appears very close to the Large Magellanic Cloud  — one of the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way. The observations were carried out with the high resolution channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. This instrument has delivered some of the sharpest views of the Universe so far achieved by mankind. This image covers only a tiny patch of sky — about the size of a one cent euro coin held 100 metres away! A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by flickr user c.claude.

Not all of us have access to a telescope and definitely not the Hubble Telescope to see the stars.  In our next free noon program, Les Green will present: “Astronomy for the Rest of Us-Amateur Astronomy”.

Originally used as a calendar to know when to plant or harvest crops, humans have studied the stars for over 5000 years.  Les Green hasn’t studied the stars quite that long but did find astronomy an interesting hobby in 1994 when he saw a comet slam into a planet.  In this presentation, he will take you on a journey 13.5 trillion years in the making.  We will learn how to identify astronomical objects and events starting with the ones closest to earth such as shooting stars, through the solar system discussing the sun and planets, and finally travel into deep space.  We will discuss freely obtainable resources such as star charts, maps, and information; we will also try to stick to objects and events, which can be seen with the naked eye or a small set of binoculars.  In this digital age, astronomy is an analog hobby.  While there are lots of apps out there you will get the best results by printing a current star chart, going outside and looking up, plus you won’t ruin your night vision.  Come learn the secrets of the universe, or at least why we think the earth isn’t flat.

Help us plan seating by calling the library at 535-8036, Ext. 3310 to let us know you are coming.  We will have water and lemonade to keep you hydrated during this informative and fun program.

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