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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Astronomy department offers two more Mars viewing opportunities

The New Mexico State University Department of Astronomy will host two events to provide the public more opportunities to see the planet Mars while it remains a brilliant red presence in the night sky.

events will take place at the on-campus Tombaugh Observatory located near the tennis-center and running track in the center of the NMSU campus.

The first viewing opportunity will be Saturday, Sept. 13, starting at 8:15 p.m. U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District is expected to be present after 8:30 p.m. that night.

In case of bad weather, the astronomy department will host special presentations on Mars and astronomy in Room 102 of the Biology Annex, located on the west side of Williams Street just north of Stewart Street, near the Astronomy Building. Someone will be available to direct people from the observatory to the Biology Annex if the need arises.

The second viewing opportunity will be during the department's regularly scheduled observatory open house at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3.

Mars recently reached its closest proximity to Earth in about 60,000 years. While the distance between Earth and Mars is gradually increasing as Earth pulls ahead of Mars in their celestial race around the sun, Mars will still remain prominent in the night sky and its apparent size will be only about 20 percent smaller than its late-August maximum.

Since Mars is rising earlier as the weeks pass, the planet will be higher in the sky for these early evening viewing opportunities. Other night-sky wonders will also be viewed, weather permitting.

Astronomy faculty members and graduate students will be present at both of these events to operate the telescopes, answer questions and act as tour guides to the night sky.