July 25, 2018
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator
VSU Observatory Hosts Mars Observing Sessions July 27, 30
VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Observatory invites the Valdosta-Lowndes County community to observe Mars from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 27, and Monday, July 30. Admission is free of charge.
“… a fortuitous combination of events will bring the planet Mars closer to Earth than it has been since 2003, and closer than it will be until 2035,” shared Dr. Kenneth Rumstay, a professor in VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences.
“Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, travels in an eccentric orbit; its distance from the Sun varies from 128.5 to 154.8 million miles. On the morning of July 27, Mars will reach opposition; at that time our Earth will lie directly between the sun and Mars. Just two days later Mars will reach perihelion, the point in its orbit closest to the sun. As a result of this combination of circumstances, in the early morning of July 31, Mars will pass closest to Earth, at a distance of only 35,800,000 miles.
“Mars is now easily visible to the unaided eye; it is the bright orange ‘star’ visible in the southeastern sky after 9:30 p.m. For those early risers who are up before sunrise, look for Mars in the southwest.”
The VSU Observatory is located on the roof of Nevins Hall. Guests should enter the southeast entrance of the building and take the stairs or elevator to the fourth floor.
Limited parking will be available in front of Nevins Hall and across Patterson Street.
Contact VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752 for more information.