Monarchs go to Space Without Shuttle

Valley’s Astronomy Group hosts “The Fall Sky” planetarium show.

By Alton Pitre, Staff Writer

Students visited outer space inside of the Valley College’s Planetarium this past Friday in “The Fall Sky” planetarium show, hosted by Valley’s astronomy group.

The show began a projection of the rising morning’s east sun inside the dome of the planetarium. Exhibited were the universe’s constellations and how to find them in the evening skies. Later in the show, a comedic narrative was used to create a humorous look of the ancient myths behind the naming of the constellations.

“We do a series of events to encourage participation and interest in astronomy,” said Dr. David Faulk, the planetarium director and associate professor of astronomy at Valley. “For the lectures, we have guest speakers come in on selected Sundays and then we do the planetarium shows for the public. And that way, we encourage people to come in and learn about the sky.”

Dr. Faulk led the show describing the planets and stars while telling occasional jokes.

“If you ever want to impress your friend and annoy your enemies, tell them look,” Dr. Faulk said, referring to the planet Venus, which is 46 million miles away from Earth, but fairly close in comparison to the distance of the other planets occupying the galaxy. He described Venus as a fun planet to look at.

Aside from the constellations and the humorous tradition stories told, Faulk informed everyone of NASA’s new space probe, known as MAVEN, that is on its way to Mars in hopes of detecting the reasoning behind why the planet is losing its atmosphere, in addition to any other general data collected to better understand the planet. Ever since water was discovered on Mars years ago, it has raised the attention and desire of the world, especially the United States’ government, which is anxious to find out more information about the red planet.

MAVEN, which stands for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, launched on Monday and is scheduled to arrive at Mars on Dec. 14 where it will survey Mars’ atmosphere and surface 37,000 miles above the planet.

According to Faulk, half of the probes sent out to Mars have failed in their attempts.

“We don’t know what it is. Maybe Mars doesn’t like to be investigated,” Faulk said.

The majority of attendees were Valley students, who were looking to expand their knowledge about the solar system while simultaneously earning extra academic credit.

English major Gerald Ruiz was one of the many students who came out to the show.

“I learned about the constellations and what they are exactly,” Ruiz said. “And the more ways to brag to my friends about what I know now about the constellations.”

“It was all right,” Ruiz said in responding to the comedy style used in the program. “The jokes were pretty cheesy. I wish I had some nachos with that.”

The next planetarium show, “Point of No Return—Quasars and Supermassive Black Holes” will be on Dec. 6 inside the Planetarium. After each show, the Observatory is available for viewing the sky through a telescope, weather permitting.

For more information, call the Planetarium’s “Hotline” (818) 947-2335 or visit http://lavcastrogroup.org/.

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