Lunar Eclipse Open House

Observatory and Planetarium
Augustana College
820 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois

Wednesday, February 20, 2008, 8:00-10:00 pm

The John Deere Planetarium will present a free public program on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 in conjunction with the total eclipse of the moon. The planetarium, located at 820 38th Street, will be open from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm, with indoor and outdoor programs in the planetarium, the Carl Gamble Observatory, and the building's grounds.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon is such that the Earth blocks the sunlight that normally makes the Moon shine. During the eclipse, the Moon is slowly covered and then uncovered by the Earth's shadow. The totally eclipsed Moon is an eerie and awe-inspiring faint red disk. With a telescope, or even with the naked eye, the shadow's progress can be observed across the Moon's craters, highlands, and the Maria, or dark portions of the Moon.

The programs will be presented by planetarium director, Dr. Lee Carkner, and by other Augustana faculty and students. In addition to the 14-inch reflector in the Gamble Observatory and a 5-inch telescope on the grounds, a planetarium show on the wonders of the night sky will be offered.

The Fryxell Geology Museum, which features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest, will also be open to the public.  Available for viewing are a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, the wall of glowing, fluorescent rocks and the complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica.

Admission is free. The observing areas are unheated so dress appropriate to the weather. In the event of cloudy sky conditions, the indoor programs will still be offered.