Students Link with McDonald Observatory at Blakemore Planetarium Feb. 24

17 February 2011

MIDLAND — Twenty-eight Midland High School students will explore The University ofTexas at Austin's McDonald Observatory and the wonders of the cosmos next Thursday when they visit Blakemore Planetarium at the Museum of the Southwest with their teacher John Jeffries.

The event is part of the "Live from McDonald Observatory" series of distance learning programs that the observatory initiated to bolster science literacy among Texas' elementary and secondary students. The videoconference allows schools who cannot send their students to the observatory an opportunity to experience astronomy.

Thursday's program, "Modeling the Milky Way," will be presented by McDonald Observatory's Education Coordinator Marc Wetzel. It will run from 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.

The program has two parts: Students will see a live view of the Sun (weather permitting) from a telescope at McDonald, and take a tour of the Sun's surface to see sunspots and solar flares. Next, they will build a model of the Milky Way galaxy. These events will be followed by a question and answer session.

The "Live from McDonald Observatory" collaboration with Blakemore Planetarium began in October 2010, when over two days, more than 200 students from Midland's Sam Houston, Crocket, and Parker elementary schools attended.

The McDonald Observatory programs for Midland students at Blakemore Planetarium are funded by a grant from the Helen Greathouse Charitable Trust.

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Note: Media are invited to attend. For more information, please contact Dr. Andrew Kerr at 432-683-2882 or

Media Contacts

Marc Wetzel, McDonald Observatory Education Coordinator: 432-426-3672

Dr. Andrew Kerr, Director, Blakemore Planetarium: 432-683-2882