Drake Municipal Observatory

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Public Events

Drake University hosts public educational lectures at the Municipal Observatory each Fall, Spring, and Summer term.

Read on for details on upcoming lectures.

Visitors can expect an Astronomy lesson followed by stargazing with expert guidance. Lectures begin at 8 PM, regardless of weather. Sky Viewing begins at dark if clear conditions. Children 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Please contact Drake Physics & Astronomy to request accomidations. Admission is free and open to all! 

A group of community members sits inside the observatory facing forward. There are pictures of stars, planets, and outer space on the walls of the room. One man stands at the front of the room facing the group. There is a projector and screen behind him, an a small modern telescope next to him. He appears to be speaking to the group.

Previous recorded lectures are available on YouTube.

If you have questions or comments regarding public nights please contact:  Herb.folsom@drake.edu

Or call Drake Physics & Astronomy department at 515-271-3141

Fall 2022 Lecture Series

 September 16th   Finding Your Way Around:  Constellations and Lines in the Sky

September 23rd   The Copernican Revolution: Ellipses or Epicycles

September 30th    Galileo Was A Jerk!!: Or a Hero of Science

October 7th              Relativity in Your Phone: Does Time Fly When You’re Flying?

October 14th           Telescope Basics:  Refractors, Reflectors, and Interferometers

October 21st            What is Gravity:  Aristotle to Einstein

October 28th            Alien Life:  Are We Alone??

November 4th          Death of a Star:  White Dwarfs, Neutron Stars and Black Holes


We would also welcome future topic suggestions from the public!

Summer 2022 Lecture Series

June 10th: Super Moon There are times when the moon is larger than at other times.  Why does the moon vary in size.  Do the tides vary with the size of the moon?

June 17th: Observatory is Closed! No lecture this evening!

June 24th: Our Chaotic Calendar Some say that our calendar is based upon the sun. Some ancient religions base their calendar on the moon. We know that making sense of our calendar is a comedy of erros at best.

July 1st: Happy Aphelion Day July 4th is a special day. No it isn’t THAT! Today is the day we are furthest from the sun, So why isn’t it cold?

July 8th: Solar Minimum The sun is a variable star.  Over time the sun changes and with those changes are changes in our weather.

July 15th: Air is Special This is an experiment. We will be doing demonstrations of science principals involving air. Among them are the self extinguishing candle, the self-inflating balloon, breaking a wooden board with a piece of paper and making a comment.

July 22nd: The Predictable (Yearly) Storm Every year the orbit of the Earth carries it through a trail of debris left over by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The result is a colossal meteor shower.

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