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KNOXVILLE – For 100 hours, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will give the public a chance to turn their eyes to the skies – with the help of some powerful telescopes.

As part of the global celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, UT Knoxville is hosting four days of events designed to give both the campus community and the general public the opportunity to learn more about astronomy and take part in observations. All events will take place in the Nielsen Physics and Astronomy Building.

“Over 400 years ago Galileo pointed his telescope at the sun, the moon and the stars, and our knowledge of the universe continues to expand as a result of that single moment in time,” said Paul Lewis, director of Space Science Outreach in the UT Knoxville physics and astronomy department. “We would like to share our knowledge with as many people as we can, as often as we can, at these and many more opportunities in the coming year.”

The program begins at 9 p.m., Thursday, April 2, with a special telescope viewing for UT Knoxville students, faculty and staff.

At 9 p.m. on Friday, April 3, the public will be invited to join in a viewing, as part of the UT Knoxville astronomy program’s regular first and third Friday viewing schedule.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4, there will be a screening of the one-hour film “Eyes on the Skies: 400 Years of Telescopic Discovery.”

From 3 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, April 5, there will be a special daylight viewing opportunity, with the telescope turned toward the sun. By using special filters, attendees will have the chance to look for unique solar features such as sunspots.

For more about the UT Knoxville Space Science Outreach program and the 100 Hours of Astronomy, visit http://www.phys.utk.edu/trdc. To learn more about the International Year of Astronomy, visit http://astronomy2009.org.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)