If you've ever wondered what that glowing yellow ball in the sky is, or what kind of machines humans are sending into space to take photos, check out one of the free "Astronomy Nights" at Mesa Community College's planetarium this summer.
These monthly shows give viewers a new look at the universe, and each planetarium show focuses on different inter-galactic topics. The next Astronomy Night, on June 4, is "IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System."
IBEX, or Interstellar Boundary Explorer, was the satellite launched into Earth orbit by NASA in fall 2008. MCC planetarium director Dr. Kevin Healy says the planetarium show "introduces the IBEX satellite and its mission to explore the boundary between our Sun's influence and the space between the stars."
Healy will also show participants which stars and planets are visible right now.
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"In the evening sky, the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn are visible to the unaided eye," Healy says. "After sunset, we will be setting up a telescope and viewing the planets, especially Venus and Saturn, and whatever other star clusters and other wonders of the universe we can find."
The first planetarium show of the night starts at 6 p.m. Friday, with shows repeating every 40 minutes. Free tickets are handed out at the door on a first-come, first-served basis. Programming ends at 10 p.m.
For more information on upcoming Astronomy Nights, including the IBEX show this Friday and the upcoming "Tour of the Universe with Pink Floyd" on Friday, July 2, visit www.mesacc.edu/planetarium.