HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University's Astronomy Club will host its final astronomical event for the spring on Friday, May 3, at 8:15 p.m.
The public is invited to a free viewing of the "Fabulous Five" visible planets. The viewing telescopes will give participants the opportunity to see "details of the planets, including the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, and the sunlight on the surface of Venus," said Dr. Timothy Folkerts, assistant professor of physics.
These brightly glowing planets, which will be visible in the western sky, are Mercury, the closest planet to the sun and the eighth largest; Venus, the second planet from the sun and the sixth largest; Mars, the fourth planet from the sun and the seventh largest; Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest; and Jupiter, the fifth planet from the sun and by far the largest. Jupiter is more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined and is 318 times the size of Earth.
Prior to the observation program, the Astronomy Club will recognize the winners of the second annual Creative Solar System Contest, a creative writing competition for local elementary students, grades 2-5. The competition combines writing and artwork about the solar system, "whether through illustrations or a poem," said Folkerts.
Prizes are a pair of binoculars used for stargazing, savings bonds, and opportunities to be the junior observatory director and helping to set up telescopes for the Astronomy Club.