Mars buffs stage early-morning party

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August 25, 2003 // UPDATED 11:03 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

A cadre of astronomy buffs will gather at the corner of Maple Street and Harmon Place at 4 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, to drink free coffee, eat Mars bars and scope out the Red Planet until sunrise.

You are invited to join them.

It is the first of two events the Minnesota Planetarium Society and the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) are sponsoring that day to celebrate Mar's nearest approach to Earth in 60,000 years.

They will have 8-inch and 10-inch telescopes and a Mars Mobile, with exhibits on the planet, said Robert Bonadurer, planetarium director. Joe's Garage, 1610 Harmon Place, will provide the coffee. The Society will hand out "I marveled at Mars" certificates.

"It is an opportunity to talk about this fascinating world," he said. "Is there life there or not? Who knows? We are spending millions of dollars to find out. We have four more space ships on the way, two from America, one from Europe and one from Japan."

Bonadurer said he did not want to get people's expectations too high for the viewing. "You can get a glimpse of the South Pole, the ice cap. . . . nothing in phenomenal detail," he said.

If you aren't a morning person, attend a free exhibit and public lecture on Mars at MCTC's fine art center at 7 p.m. Minnesota author and Mars expert William Sheehan will lead a dramatic reading of the great texts on Mars, including Percival Lowell, H.G. Wells, Orson Wells and others, against a backdrop of images and music.

The Planetarium Society will hold a fundraiser on the rooftop of Joe's Garage following the lecture, including more Mars viewing by telescope and computer.