FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University will observe International Astronomy Day (April 20) with programs on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday (April 19), the inaugural FMU Science Fiction Film Evening will be held in the Dooley Planetarium. The program will include a viewing of the film “Apollo 13,” beginning at 7 p.m. If the sky is clear, the film will be interrupted at 8:15 p.m., so everyone can go outside to view the International Space Station as it passes overhead in the evening sky.
The university’s observatory will hold a public viewing session, Saturday (April 20) from 7 to 9:30 p.m. This session will feature the viewing of all seven heavenly bodies known to ancient man. The sun, Mercury, and Venus will be viewed from 7 to 8:15 p.m., while the moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible starting at 8:15 p.m.
Admission to all these events will be free. Popcorn will be served at the Friday movie.
The first Astronomy Day was held in 1973 in San Francisco. The week of April 15-21 is also designated as International Astronomy Week.
The Dooley Planetarium is located on the second floor of the Cauthen Educational Media Center. The FMU observatory is located beyond the outfield fence of the FMU Softball Field, south of the Smith University Center. Visitors can park in Lot D at the southern end of the campus and follow the walkway to the observatory.
The loosely structured observatory viewing program allows visitors to come and go as they please. If weather conditions block viewing, the session will be canceled. The public may call 843-661-1355 for recorded information about the prospect of a clear sky to allow the event to be held.
For more information about the Dooley Planetarium, visit its website at http://astro.fmarion.edu/planet/. For more information about planetarium programs or observatory viewing sessions, call director John Mattox at 843-661-1441. The observatory webpage is located at http://astro.fmarion.edu/observe/