Rowan hosts observatory open house for Mars viewing

Rowan hosts observatory open house for Mars viewing


The Edelman Planetarium and College of Science & Mathematics at Rowan University will host special events marking Mars in opposition on Thursday, August 23 from 8 to 11 p.m. in Science Hall on the Glassboro campus.

Mars will reach opposition -- meaning it is positioned directly opposite the Sun in the sky -- this summer, making it brighter than it has been in years. For a period of about two months, Mars will supplant Jupiter as the fourth-brightest celestial body, after the Sun, Moon and Venus. Mars’ reign as the fourth-brightest celestial body will last from about July 7 to Sept. 7.

Rowan will host a special observatory open house to view this spectacle that occurs every two years and 50 days. The evening’s activities include two brief (and free) shows in the Edelman Planetarium, a guest speaker, hands-on activities and observations of the night sky (weather permitting). Hands-on activities include creating a pocket-sized scale model of the solar system and acting as “Mission Control” while trying to “drive” a Mars Rover through a pre-set course.

Two free planetarium shows will be presented at 8 and 8:30 p.m. in the Edelman Planetarium. Hands-on demonstrations about the planets will be available in the Science Hall atrium throughout the event. At 9 p.m., Rowan University Physics and Astronomy Department chair and resident Mars expert, Dr. David Klassen, will give a special presentation about Mars.

The observing session will begin at 9 p.m. on the rooftop of Science Hall. Telescopes will be set up on the rooftop observation deck, which is accessible via the west elevator. The 0.4-m research telescope also will be open for viewing. 

Faculty and members of the student-run Astronomy Club will operate the telescopes and assist visitors. The planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible all night along with the double star Albireo and much more.

This rain-or-shine event is free and open to the public. In the event of bad weather, the observing session will be cancelled, but all other events will continue as scheduled.