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Kathleen Burton                                                                                                                                                        Nov. 12, 2003

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-1731 or 650/604-9000





NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS:  Members of the news media and public are invited to attend the second talk in this year's 2003-2004 Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. PDT at Foothill College's Smithwick Theater, Los Altos Hills, Calif. More information is available by calling the series hotline at 650/949-7888.




Black holes and how scientists proved they exist will be the subject of a free public lecture at Foothill College on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. PDT. The talk is entitled "The Mystery of Black Holes."


Dr. Alan Dressler, staff astronomer of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Pasadena, Calif., will explain what black holes are, how they are formed, and how astronomers suspected and proved that black holes do exist. Dressler will discuss black holes that range in size from the relatively small mass of a single star to those the size of a billion stars.


"NASA Ames is pleased to co-sponsor the popular Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, now in its fifth successful year," said NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard. "This series is one important element of our efforts to inspire the next generation of space explorers."


Dressler is well known for his ability to discuss astronomical topics in non-technical terms.  He is one of the leading scientists investigating the birth of galaxies and their evolution through time, and is the author of the popular book "Voyage to the Great Attractor," which describes his research to locate the largest structures in the universe.


The Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series 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.  In addition, Dressler's talk is part of the Second Century Lecture Program, which is sponsored by the American Astronomical Society.


To get to Smithwick Theater 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 are welcome. More information is available by calling the series hotline at 650/949-7888.




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