Close-up look at Mars is fascinating

Close-up look at Mars is fascinating by Maya Ristic, Correspondent Mars was the nighttime entertainment in the community Wednesday, Aug. 27. The Earth Science Department at The University of South Dakota set up telescopes outside the building for the community to use to get a close-up look at the planet.

Coordinator of the open house, Dr. Chris Keating, was delighted with the public turnout.

�I am thrilled we got so many people, and I�m hopeful that everyone was happy,� Keating said.

Visitors ranged from families and students to teachers.

�Space brings curiosity in people�s lives,� 13-year old Peter Gehm said.

Vermillion resident Alp Toygart offered his assessment of NASA�s future.

�Our technology is improving and in 10 to 20 years, we will have a human being going to Mars to develop stations at both Mars and the moon,� he said.

Little ones were also caught wide-eyed by the image of the planet.

�Mars is very colorful,� 10-year old Jakob Gehm said.

Since Mars is as close as it�s ever been in 60,000 years, the planet�s orbit won�t be bringing it this close to Earth any time soon.

�It�s good for the community to see what�s beyond our own atmosphere,� Vermillion resident Bruce Gray said.

I was absolutely delighted with the entire experience. It was amazing to see an object in space so close through a telescope, knowing how far away it really is. I also knew that I was very lucky because I got to see Mars in my lifetime.

It was enjoyable to see how children were so fascinated by the image of Mars. Every so often, I would hear cheers of excitement such as, �Wow� or �Neat Dad ? look!�

Hopefully this opportunity to become more familiar with Mars and space in general will inspire future science teachers, NASA scientists, astronomers, physicists and engineers. I am convinced that we will truly have some amazing people working for our society that will bring positive effects in our scientific world.

Thanks to the Earth Science Department at USD for giving our community the opportunity to look at astronomy in a whole new perspective.

Even if science isn�t one�s passion in life, being able to see what part of our solar system is breathtaking and simply rewarding.

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