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Published: Tuesday, 1/20/2009

UT's planetarium, observatory slate programs through March


Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory at the University of Toledo have scheduled a series of public programs now through March on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.

Serpents of the Sun, scheduled for Jan. 23 and 30, examines the cultures of Native American civilizations in Ohio and how the stars fit into their daily lives. Coverage includes burial mounds in central and southern Ohio and Sunwatch, a Stonehenge-like monument near Dayton.

Amazing Stargazing, scheduled for Jan. 24 and 31, is a children's introduction to the nighttime sky.

The radio-styled program covers constellations, shooting stars, comets, moons, and other astronomical features.

February programs have Black History Month themes. On Friday nights, Skywatchers of Africa looks into how African cultures, past and present, use the night sky for navigational and spiritual purposes and how their examples compare with other cultures worldwide. On Saturday afternoons, Follow the Drinking Gourd covers how fugitive African-American slaves used the stars - most notably the Big Dipper - to guide trips north seeking freedom in 19th century America.

Friday nights in March, the planetarium will present Is There Anyone Out There? addressing the question of extraterrestrial intelligence and explaining how astronomers search for such life elsewhere. The Saturday program in March will be So You Want to Be an Astronomer? introducing backyard astronomy and outlining what astronomers do and how they do it.

Observation of the heavens will be offered in the Brooks Observatory or Ritter Observatory after all evening programs, weather permitting.

All Friday programs start at

7:30 p.m., while all Saturday shows start at 1 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11 and seniors; children under 3 are free.

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