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Family Astronomy Night – VIRTUAL EVENT

December 7, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST


Mars:  The Most Controversial Planet

Did you know that this month, Mars will be closer to Earth than it will be for any time in the next decade?  Have you noticed that Mars has been growing steadily brighter all year long, and is now about 25x brighter than last fall?  Are you aware that Earth has had more missions to Mars fail than to all other planets combined?  Have you heard that three new spacecraft just arrived on Mars as recently as last year, creating a total of a dozen robotic spacecraft currently in operation on or above Mars right now?  Join Dr. Stark via Zoom to learn more!

Please register below to receive the Zoom login. You may register up to the presentation start time or even during the meeting to join us.


Time allowed for live Q & A throughout the event. ASL Interpretation featured during the event.

Families with school-age and older children are invited to join us virtually  for a presentation focused on the planet Mars.  We will share what makes Mars so different from the other planets, how it has become so important for astronomers throughout the centuries, and why it has been so controversial.  (Why do we speak of Martians, but not Venusians or Jupiterians?  There are good reasons!)  We will also summarize some key things that we’ve learned about the red planet.  How is Mars’ orbit different?  How far away is it?  What is it made of?  Is it really red?  Could it have life?  We will answer all of these questions, and more.  Just as important, we will also describe how astronomers (and robotic spacecraft) have discovered these things, telling the story of how our understanding of Mars came about.

But there’s more:  an unusual number of special things are happening in the sky this month.  For example, are you ready to welcome brilliant Venus—and speedy Mercury—back to the evening sky?  Did you know that all five planets will be visible at the same time for a brief window in December?  Have you heard that two of the year’s best meteor showers are about to take place?  And—saving the best for last—are you aware that at its moment of peak brightness, Mars will actually be “eclipsed” by the Moon?  We will help you see all of these things yourself.

Please join our mailing list to receive notices about upcoming Astronomy Night presentations and other events at St. Andrews!

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services, and activities. Accommodation for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting 989 374-9903 or lightcla@msu.edu

Programming is made possible through the support of several local organizations: the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundationthe Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundationthe Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, and the Dow Chemical Company Foundation.


December 7, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
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