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May 15, 2003

Kathleen Burton
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-1731 or 650/604-9000
E-mail: Kathleen.M.Burton@nasa.gov


RELEASE: 03-38AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS
: Members of the news media and public are invited to attend the sixth talk in this year's 2002-2003 Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series on Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. PDT at Foothill College's Smithwick Theater, Los Altos Hills, Calif. Directions and further information are available below and by calling the series hotline at 650/949-7888.

POPULAR AUTHOR TO DISCUSS AMATEUR ASTRONOMERS’ CONTRIBUTIONS

Award-winning writer, filmmaker and PBS commentator Timothy Ferris will discuss amateur astronomers’ discoveries of new and exploding stars and their search for ancient asteroids that might be on a collision course with Earth.

Ferris will be the featured speaker at a free public lecture at Foothill College on Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. PDT. His talk is entitled “Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Astronomers are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril.” New technologies within the reach of even modest budgets have transformed the hobby of astronomy in recent years. It is a topic chronicled by Ferris in New Yorker magazine articles and in his widely praised new book "Seeing in the Dark." Ferris will sign copies of the book after the lecture.

“NASA Ames is proud to co-sponsor the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, which exemplifies excellence in science outreach,” said NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. “This series is just one element of our efforts to inspire the next generation of engineers and space explorers.”

A night sky observing ‘star party,’ open to the general public, will be held at the Foothill College Observatory following Ferris' talk. The event will feature a variety of telescopes, with guidance provided by the Peninsula Astronomical Society. Since the moon will be more than three-quarters full, the likely sky objects for viewing will be Jupiter and Saturn, plus distant deep sky objects such as double stars, star clusters and galaxies. Amateur astronomers are invited to set up their own telescopes. Guests are advised to bring a jacket or sweater, if they plan to stay for the star party after the lecture.

This is the fourth year of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, which is co-sponsored by NASA Ames, Foothill College's Division of Physical Science, Mathematics and Engineering, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the SETI Institute.

The lecture series is held at Foothill College's Smithwick Theater in Los Altos Hills. From Interstate 280, exit at El Monte Road and travel west to the campus. Visitors must purchase a one-day campus parking permit for $2. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Young people over the age of 13 are welcome. More information is available by calling the series hotline at 650/949-7888.

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