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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Florida Gulf Coast University Invites Public to Mars Exhibit

FORT MYERS, FL - The last time Mars brushed shoulders with earth, Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens wandered the planet. Whether or not they recognized the unusual red light in the night sky is hard to say, but there is no missing the bright red glow of Mars’ nearness in the night sky. If they had known that they were witnessing a remarkable celestial event that would not be seen again for 60,000 years, they may have celebrated their lucky timing.

Florida Gulf Coast University invites the public to “Mars Watch 2003” at the Evelyn L. Egan Observatory to experience this once-in-a-lifetime Martian encounter Friday and Saturday with a close-up view of the planet’s magnificent surface through the observatory’s powerful, research-grade Ritchey- Chrétien telescope - a smaller version of NASA’s Hubble Space telescope with unrivaled capabilities to produce high resolution pictures of the planet.

Humans will only have to wait another 284 years for Mars to make a repeat performance after this week, when it comes within 34,646,418 miles from earth, compared to its usual 93,000,000-mile distance.

“It’s like having a front row seat to the celestial close encounter of our times,” assistant professor of astronomy Michael Fauerbach.

Presentations about the Mars exploration rover scheduled to land on the planet in January begin at 8:30 p.m. Live images from the Ritchey- Chrétien will be displayed on televison screens for all to see.

According to Fauerbach there will be plenty to do and see for everyone who chooses to take advantage of the observatory’s campus facility, which includes three additional outdoor telescopes for viewing. However, everyone will have the chance to view Mars up close and personal through the incomparable Ritchey- Chrétien telescope inside the observatory.

“People will not be discouraged with this opportunity,” Fauerbach said. “We will stay until everyone who wants to look through the big telescope gets their chance.”

In addition, the event will host video programs about Mars and assist viewers with identifying other celestial objects through the telescope as well.

“It’s going to be informative and a lot of fun,” Fauerbach said. “We’re going to make sure everyone enjoys the experience.”

Programs begin at 8:30 p.m. and Fauberbach encourages people to be on time. Although Mars will be most brilliant for viewing after 9 p.m., guests will not want to miss the programs and educational events that will be presented before viewing. Admission is free.

For more information, contact Fauerbach at (239) 590-7219 or .

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