February 7, 2000
00-22

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU to host Planetarium show on millennium

What century is this, anyway? To find out, come to "The New Millennium," Valdosta State University's planetarium show on Thursday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. Dr. Martha A. Leake will review the timekeeping efforts of the centuries and explain why the millennium is still ahead of us, despite the fact that the shift to year 2000 has occurred. The reckoning of the calendar has never been straightforward, and Leake will explain some of the skips and twists in our modern "Gregorian" Calendar.

The program will include a look ahead at the celestial events of 2000, as well as a visit to the VSU Observatory. Weather permitting, the Pleiades star cluster and the Orion nebula should be visible. The visible planets put on their last show for a while as they disappear in the Sun's glare. Jupiter and Saturn should be visible after the show, but Mars and Mercury will have already set. On May 5, the so-called planetary alignment, those planets will be nearly in line with the sun.

There was a lunar eclipse Jan. 20-21, and there will be six more eclipses of various types this year, visible in different parts of the world. The year 2000 also heralds the arrival of the peak of the sun's activity cycle: lots of sunspots, solar flares and geomagnetic storms can be expected. How will these events affect Earth? This November, we may see another spectacular Leonid meteor shower.

"The New Millennium" is the third show in VSU's 1999-2000 planetarium series, "Time and Again." In the fourth show, "Two Centuries of Color," scheduled for April 13, 2000, Dr. Cecilia Barnbaum will take another look at the colors of celestial objects. This event is free and open to the public, although space is limited. There are no reservations, so come early. The VSU Planetarium is located in Nevins Hall. For more information on these or other VSU planetarium programs, or to schedule a private show for a class or tour group, please call the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences at 333-5752.