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View Sept. 27 lunar eclipse at Augustana

Augustana College's John Deere Planetarium and Carl Gamble Observatory will host free public programs on Sunday, Sept. 27, in conjunction with the total eclipse of the moon.

According to Dr. Lee Carkner, director of the John Deere Planetarium and professor of physics at Augustana, a lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, sun and moon are aligned so that the Earth blocks sunlight from shining on the moon.

"During the eclipse, the moon is slowly covered and then uncovered by the Earth's shadow," Dr. Carkner reported. "The totally eclipsed moon is an eerie and awe-inspiring faint red disk." With a telescope, or even with the naked eye, the shadow's progress can be observed across the moon's craters, highlands and the Maria, or dark portions of the Moon.

Dr. Carkner, other Augustana faculty and students will showcase the eclipse using the 14-inch reflector in the observatory and telescopes on the grounds, and will feature a planetarium show on the wonders of the night sky. The planetarium and observatory will be open from 9 -11 p.m.

The Fryxell Geology Museum, which features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest, also will be open that night. The public may view a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, a wall of glowing, fluorescent rocks and a complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica by Augustana's Dr. William Hammer, Fritiof Fryxell Professor of Geology.

The observatory is unheated, so dress accordingly. In the event of a cloudy sky, the planetarium presentation will continue as scheduled.

For more information, contact Dr. Lee Carkner at 309-794-7318 or visit

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