This year marks 400 years since Galileo Galilei used his telescope to explore the skies. To celebrate this anniversary and in an effort to promote and gain interest in astronomy, this year is observed as the International Year of Astronomy around the world. UNH’s Physics Department has joined this effort by providing a series of lectures once a month by UNH faculty, staff and students on a wide variety of astronomy topics during the school year.
This Saturday professor Mark McConnell gave an interesting presentation named “Earth Attacks! A History of Martian Exploration”. As the title suggests, the lecture covered Martian exploration from the very early days until the present time. Professor McConnell has performed some research why Mars is such a popular topic among people. One of the reasons may be the discovery of Martian canals in 1887, which were assumed at that time to be created by some advanced civilization. Nowadays we know that the canals are not real, but nevertheless Mars is still intriguing both the scientific as well as the science-fiction community. Since the discovery of water ice on Mars last year I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of the great exploration.
Another interesting astronomy talk at UNH will be on May 16th and the topic will be “The Search for Other Worlds”. Hope to see you there!