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Three Groups Offer Solar System Events April 14

March 16, 2012

      The Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails, the Anne Arundel Community College Astronomy Club and the Astrophysics Science Division of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center have teamed up again for “Planet Walk,” a day and evening of free community programs focusing on our solar system on Saturday, April 14.

      Enjoy a daytime Planet Walk on the B&A Trail, a 7:30 p.m. multimedia presentation about Pluto at AACC and an 8:30 p.m. Stargazing Party, weather permitting, at the AACC Observatory on the college’s Arnold campus at 101 College Parkway.

      The day’s events from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. feature a Planet Walk along a 4.7-mile segment of the B&A Trail from the Sun Station in Glen Burnie and past the eight planets to the dwarf planet Pluto at the ranger station in Severna Park. This section of the trail features two sculptures and 10 information stations representing the sun and the planets of the Solar System. Each planet’s station is spaced its proportional distance from the sun. New sculptural steel markers are in place this year to show the relative location of each planet site along the route.

      Walk, bicycle or run the trail during the event. Planetary scientists and astronomers from NASA/Goddard, area colleges and universities and local astronomy clubs will man each planet station to provide information and answer questions. The daytime event includes activities for young explorers, giveaways and distribution of raffle tickets for an evening drawing at AACC for astronomy related prizes. Only heavy rain will cancel the daytime portion of the event.

      At 7:30 p.m., the AACC Astronomy Club offers a free multimedia presentation on “Mooning Pluto: Searching for Rings and Satellites around the Dwarf Planet” in the Dragun Science Building Room 110 on the Arnold campus. Hear from Doug Hamilton, Ph.D., professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland College Park. He led the team that discovered a fourth moon orbiting Pluto and will discuss how the discovery occurred and the process for naming newly discovered celestial bodies.

      Hamilton was a co-investigator on the Galileo Dust Detection System Team and on NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. His numerous awards and recognitions include the University of Maryland Board of Regents 2010 Faculty Award for Scholarship.

      After the presentation, the raffle drawing will take place along with the stargazing party. The College Observatory (Astronomy Lab) is outside parking lot B near the Resource Management Building. Use the college telescopes with the assistance of Astronomy Club members or bring your own equipment. Should weather cancel the stargazing segment, the public is welcome to join the Astronomy Club for its monthly stargazing party from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21. For information call 410-222-8820 or visit