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'Stars, Dust, and Rockets' presentation set for
Nov. 21

RELEASED: Nov. 13, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Participants in a free event at Hobbs Observatory at Beaver Creek Reserve will be able to view samples of lunar material on loan from NASA thanks to a visiting faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The event will begin at 8 p.m. Nov. 21 with a presentation titled "Stars, Dust, and Rockets" by Dr. Elisha Polomski, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UW-Eau Claire.

Polomski, who joined the UW-Eau Claire department of physics and astronomy this fall, will discuss infrared astronomy as it relates to her own research. She will include a description of an observing run at a major telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

After Polomski's presentation, Dr. Beth Johnson, a visiting assistant professor of geology at UW-Eau Claire, will allow attendees to view the samples of the lunar material on loan from NASA. Johnson will use the samples in geology and astronomy classes at UW-Eau Claire.

"I do this for my students," Johnson said. "It's my gift to them so they can say they've held a piece of the moon in their hands."

The lunar samples consist of thin section microscope slides and a clear plastic disk that contains small rock and sediment samples, Johnson said. The materials include lunar basalts and impact debris, she said. There are samples collected by astronauts from all Apollo missions that landed on the moon.

During the Nov. 21 event, Johnson will briefly comment about the origin of the moon and will explain the significance of the lunar material.

If the weather is clear after the presentation, visitors can look through telescopes at astronomical objects such as Jupiter and star clusters.

The public viewing will be hosted by the Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society.

For more information, contact Dr. Lauren Likkel, professor of physics and astronomy, at likkel@uwec.edu or 715-836-5034.

-30-

SN/JB/DW

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