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Steve Kawaler, Physics and Astronomy, (515) 294-9728
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- A 2002 calendar put together by Iowa State's physics and astronomy department features breathtaking heavenly bodies that can be viewed from Iowa -- with a large enough telescope. The calendar, "Splendor of the Iowa Skies: the 2002 Fick Observatory Calendar," features such astronomical objects as the Crab Nebula, the Bubble Nebula and a globular cluster. Most of the images were photographed using the 24-in. Mather telescope at the Erwin Fick Observatory, near Boone.

"We wanted to show that some excellent astronomy is being done at Iowa State, and much of it from Fick Observatory right here in central Iowa," said Steve Kawaler, an ISU professor of physics and astronomy. "The result is a calendar full of aesthetically striking images."

All of the calendar images were obtained by Joe Eitter, manager of Fick, using an advanced CCD camera. Each object was imaged through different filters, a practice that allows astronomers to identify stars and gases of different compositions. Color images are produced by taking three separate images and combining them.

What results is a series of spectacular images of stars and galaxies in various stages of their life and death. In addition to the images and their explanations, there is a description of the Fick Observatory telescope and the ISU physics and astronomy department.

The monthly calendar also marks the dates of specific astronomical events, like meteor showers, and lists favorable viewing times for specific planets, stars and other objects. It includes annual and cyclical events pertaining to our planet's place in the solar system like equinoxes, solstices and moon phases.

Kawaler said the initial purpose of the calendar was to raise awareness of ISU astronomy, the Fick Observatory and to spark the interest of middle and high school students in astronomy.

"Our first printing of about 2,000 proved to be very popular, so we've had to go to a second printing already," Kawaler said.

The calendar is available at the University Book Store for $10.


To view the images that make up the "Splendor of the Iowa Skies" calendar, go to http://www.public.iastate.edu/~sdk/fick.

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