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Open house nights at Middlebury College observatory Sept. 30 and Oct. 28

September 21, 2005

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-On Friday evenings, Sept. 30 and Oct. 28, from 7:30-9 p.m., the Middlebury College Physics Department will hold open house nights at McCardell Bicentennial Hall's rooftop observatory, weather permitting. There is no set program; the public is invited to come anytime during these hours. Admission is free.

According to Middlebury College Professor of Physics Frank Winkler, there will be no moon on these evenings so there will be a good view of faint objects, such as nebulae and star clusters, through the 24-inch computer-controlled telescope in the observatory dome and through several smaller telescopes on the roof observation deck. Oct. 28 is near the date when the planet Mars makes its closest approach to Earth this year. Viewers will be treated to a fine view of the red planet if the weather is good.

Since cloud cover obscures visibility, the open house nights will take place only if the sky is reasonably clear. If the weather appears uncertain, call the observatory at 802-443-2266 after 6 p.m. on the evenings of an open house for a status report.

McCardell Bicentennial Hall is located on Bicentennial Way on the western edge of the Middlebury College campus. Visitors should follow state Route 125 West from the village center through the campus. Bicentennial Way, which is the third right after the flashing light at the crest of the hill, leads to a parking lot and McCardell Bicentennial Hall. Enter the building and take the elevators to the top floor, following the signs.