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College of the Canyons 'Star Party' studies Jupiter

Posted: September 23, 2010 2:17 p.m.
Updated: September 23, 2010 2:17 p.m.

If the planet Jupiter could talk, you might hear it brag, "Hey - other planets, don't mess with me. I'm larger than all the rest of you put together!"

Or it might complain, "Man, I've got this giant, irritated, red spot that just won't go away!" Or maybe we'd hear it sing, "Planet Jupiter has a moon, I-o, I-o, Oooo!"

Okay. We're all thankful it can't talk -- or sing! But it sure is an interesting planet. It is, in fact, the largest planet in our solar system; it does have a giant red spot and Io is one of its more than 63 moons.

Community members will have the opportunity to learn more about our fifth planet from the sun and view it through telescopes at the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus' fall Star Party to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15.

This free, family event will be held at the Carl A. Rasmussen Amphitheater on the Canyon Country campus, which is located at 17200 Sierra Highway, in Canyon Country 91351.

College faculty members and astronomers will be on hand with lots of information and a number of telescopes so that visitors can get an up close and personal view of a planet that has intrigued people for centuries.

Star Party attendees are encouraged to come early with picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy a festive atmosphere as the sun sets in the west and Jupiter comes into view.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the event through campus food vendor Maui Wowi. A portion of the concession sales from the Star Party will be donated to the Dr. Ram Manvi Memorial scholarship fund, to benefit students who are majoring in the fields of mathematics, science or engineering technology.

"This is the second time we've looked at Jupiter," said Dr. Dena Maloney, vice president of the Canyon Country Campus and Economic Development. "We had such strong feedback about that first event and, given Jupiter's visibility at this time of year, we've decided to focus on it again.

"Jupiter is a fascinating planet, and there is still a lot we can learn about it," Maloney said.

To begin the evening, NASA astronomer Dr. David Ciardi and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) science system engineer Dr. Kevin Grazier will present a short orientation lecture to familiarize audiences with the fifth planet from the sun.

Grazier joined NASA's JPL in 1995, and has worked as science system engineer on the Cassini Equinox Mission's study of Saturn, and also served as investigation scientist for the Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem.

Ciardi is an astronomer at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute located at Caltech and a current member of the science teams for the French exoplanet mission CoRoT and the NASA mission Kepler. Both missions are dedicated to discovering and studying planets around other stars.

Did you know?

• Jupiter is the fastest spinning planet in the Solar System. Its day is only 10-hours long.

• Jupiter is a gas planet held together by a massive gravity field.

• Jupiter is essentially a sun, but without the nuclear reaction at its core required to produce light.

• Jupiter has been visited seven times by spacecraft from Earth.

Want to know more about Jupiter or astronomy or the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus? Then bring your friends and family to this unique, educational and fun event!

For more information, call (661) 362-3801.


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