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48Asteroid Hunting on August 17th at the SCC Planetarium

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  • Laurent Pellerin
    Aug 2, 2002
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      ** High Priority **

      Seminole Community College Planetarium

      Press Release 080102

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Contact Information:
      Laurent Pellerin, Planetarium Operations & Production
      Seminole Community College
      100 Weldon Blvd
      Sanford, Florida 32773-6199
      Office: 407 328 2409
      Cell: 407 417 6176 (Use this number, as I will be on vacation August 4-16)
      Schedule: 407 328 2360
      E-mail: PelleriL@...
      http://www.scc-fl.edu/planet/


      August 17, 2002 AT 10:30 PM

      ASTEROID HUNT AT THE SEMINOLE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PLANETARIUM ON AUGUST 17, 2002 AT 10:30 PM

      On Saturday, August 17, 2002, following our Saturday Evening Show and Star Watch, the SCC Planetarium will be hosting a Public Asteroid Hunt for Asteroid 2002 NY40 as it passes the Earth at a distance of only a little more than 300,000 miles! We will be using our state-of-the-art astronomy video camera, mounted on our computerized 8" telescope with special Fastar Optics, and connected to a monitor so that everyone can witness this event live.

      But Hunts like this are never easy. The 2,600 ft diameter asteroid, 2002 NY40, will only shine at magnitude 9 as it passes by. This means that it will be 16 times fainter than the faintest star that you can see with just your eyes on a very dark, clear night far out in the country. While this is within the range of our equipment, we will be observing from the light-polluted skies of metro-Orlando.

      "Light pollution is caused by the needless and totally wasted light shining above the horizontal. It is estimated that Americans waste up to $1.5 Billion every year lighting up the sky! With almost 50% of light pollution coming from street lights, this also means that $750,000,000 of taxpayer money is wasted every year! And, with the unnecessary and wasted increased demand for electricity, all of our electric bills go up and up and up! At a time when Florida and our country are striving to cope with economic and world events by reducing spending and our dependence upon foreign energy resources, we can ill afford to continue this waste. Poor lighting also creates security and safety hazards, due to the high-contrast environment it creates that allows hazards and criminals to remain unseen in the resulting dark shadows. Contrary to popular opinion, good lighting does not cause increases in crime! Tucson, AZ, experienced a reduction in its Uniform Crime Report crime rate in the years following its adoption of outdoor lighting regulations." [Source: Southern Night-Sky Restoration Project, Southern Nights Astronomical League of Florida]

      When it comes to hunting 9th magnitude asteroids, light pollution can be a real problem because it brightens the sky to many times the brightness of the asteroid, even if the weather cooperates. But if everything goes well, we should be able to see this asteroid on the monitor as a faint "star" moving against the background stars at the rate of 8 degrees per hour. In other words, it will move 16 Lunar-diameters per hour! As it passes by the Earth, its brightness will suddenly drop to invisibility in small telescopes as we end up looking at its very dark backside as it continues its journey in towards the Sun before returning to the more distant areas of the Solar System.

      We would like to invite Central Floridians to join us for this event. The cost is free. It will start about 10:30 PM, following the regularly scheduled free star watch, which, in turn, follows our Saturday Evening Special Feature, "A Star to Steer By." The cost of the show is only $4 for adults, $3 for K-12 Students and Seniors. But attendance at the show is not required for the Star Watch or the Asteroid Hunt.

      The SCC Planetarium is located on the Main Campus of Seminole Community College at the corner of Weldon Blvd. (off of US17-92,) and College Dr. (off of Lake Mary Blvd.) There is plenty of free parking as well. For further information, please call our show line at (407) 328-2360, or visit our web page at http://www.scc-fl.edu/planet/


      NEWS MEDIA:

      TV news cameras that are equipped with line-input jacks will be able to take a live-feed off of our video camera for live or taped broadcast. Still images from our video will be available in electronic format for the newspapers shortly following the event. If you wish a still photo (.jpg) e-mailed to your offices shortly afterwards, please send your request and the appropriate e-mail address to PelleriL@... by Friday, August 16, 2002. Photos/video use must be credited to "Seminole Community College Planetarium, Sanford, FL."

      For further information on this event, see: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2002/30jul_ny40.htm?list104521

      For further information on light pollution, see:

      Dark Sky Advisory Committee, Central Florida Astronomical Society, at http://www.cfas.org/dsac.htm

      and

      Southern Night-Sky Restoration Project, Southern Nights Astronomical League of Florida, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SouthernNightSkyRestorationProject/




      Laurent A. Pellerin, Jr.
      Operations & Production
      Seminole Community College Planetarium
      100 Weldon Blvd
      Sanford, Florida 32773-6199
      407 328 2409 (Office)
      407 417 6176 (cell)
      PelleriL@...
      http://www.scc-fl.edu/planet/
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