It’s All Relative

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Contributed by
Walt Picket, Martz/Kohl Board of Directors

If you want to stay young forever, it’s easy… just travel at the speed of light! Einstein’s famous Theory of Relativity says so. That, and many other amazing and startling facts were predicted by Albert Einstein’s theories, the general and specific theories of relativity, and none have ever been proven wrong.

Best of all, it’s not that hard to demystify the famous formula that changed the world, E=MC2. Come to the Martz-Kohl Observatory on Wednesday evening, July 18 at 7:00 p.m. for a return visit of physicist Michael Stafford, a popular and enlightening speaker who knows how to bring the astronomical down to earth in everyday language. He believes science is inspiring and enjoys sharing his many years of experience and expertise with the interested public.

Guests at Martz-Kohl are especially invited to stay after Mike Stafford’s talk for a Q &A session, and weather permitting, an opportunity to view the planets and stars and other deep space objects, including some that Mike may have described to illustrate his talk. The main telescopes will be available as well as the portable telescopes upstairs on the elevated, roll-off-roof observing platform.

Mars Close Approach

Martz-Kohl invites all interested viewers to come to the observatory after dark on any Wednesday evening in late July and early August to see Mars through one of the observatory’s main research telescopes or one of the observing platform’s portable scopes as it approaches and recedes from Planet Earth.

On the evenings of Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, the Martz-Kohl Observatory will be open to the public for the special occasion of Mars’ closest approach, one of the most unusual astronomical events in decades. Come and see Mars “up close and personal.” The Observatory will open on Sunday evening, July 29 as a rain date if weather prevented good viewing on the previous nights.

The planet Mars will be closer to Earth on those nights than at any time in the last 60,000 years, with the exception of 2003 when Mars made a slightly closer pass. For a few months it outshined all the stars and planets in the night sky except the brilliant Venus. In 2018, Mars may not be quite as bright, but nearly! Mars will dramatically brighten from a red dot to a brilliant flame in the night sky by late July, appearing 1.8 times brighter than giant Jupiter.

At the moment, Mars is undergoing a planet-wide weather event of its own, of a kind that can last for weeks, even months. Fortunately, Earth has no weather to match this aspect of Mars weather: a global dust storm covering the entire planet. While this may still obscure some surface details on Mars for the Martz-Kohl viewing opportunity at the end of the month, it will offer viewers a chance to see a storm the likes of which occurs nowhere else in the solar system.

A Shower, Not a Storm

The Perseid meteor shower’s “shooting stars” are expected to be visible each night from 23 July to 20 August, as its meteors slam into Earth’s upper atmosphere at up to 45 miles per second. The Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the most spectacular of the year, will reach a maximum rate of activity on 13 August 2018. Annual meteor showers are seen when the Earth passes through debris streams left behind by disintegrating comets and asteroids.