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U.Va.’s McCormick Observatory Offers ’Mars Mania’ Open House Series In August And September

August 7, 2003-- On Aug. 27, the planet Mars will be closer to Earth than at any time in recorded history. Want a closer look? Visit the University of Virginia’s McCormick Observatory during its midnight Mars Mania Open House series in August and September. You’ll see Mars in vivid detail through the observatory’s 118-year-old telescope. But hurry, you won’t get another chance to see Mars this close until August of 2287 — a long time to wait.

Weather permitting, McCormick Observatory will be open for Mars observing beginning at 11:45 p.m. (to 2 a.m.) the nights of Aug. 22, 23, 29, Sept. 5 and Sept. 12 (11 p.m.-1 a.m.)

The open houses will include lectures, movies, displays and observing.

“During Mars Mania, visitors will be able to see details on the surface of Mars that are not normally visible when the planet is farther away,” said Ed Murphy, assistant professor of astronomy at U.Va. “The South Polar Cap on the planet will be visible as well as dark markings and clouds in the Mars atmosphere.”

During nights of cloudy weather over Earth’s atmosphere, the observatory will be closed. Weather updates will be available beginning at 10 p.m. on scheduled Mars Mania nights by calling (434) 924-7238. For general information, call (434) 924-7494. The observatory is located at the top of the hill on McCormick Road in Charlottesville. Directions can be found at: http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~rjp0i/lmo/

Contact: Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778 or (434) 924-7494

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Monday, 11-Aug-2003 13:40:38 EDT
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