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Comet hits planetarium on May 5

Show addresses asteroid as well


Planetarium Director Pat Hanrahan will discuss unmanned missions to a comet and asteroid during his Tuesday, May 5, presentation of “Asteroids (and a Comet, too!)” at Mt. Hood Community College, 26000 S.E. Stark St.

The planetarium is located beneath the library.CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY - The European Space Agency took this photo of Comet 67P/C-G, via its Rosetta unmanned space probe.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is just now beaming back the first-ever close-ups of the dwarf planet (and largest asteroid) Ceres. The mission has taken photos that inspired widespread speculation in the astronomical community as the camera caught two distinct shiny objects or spots within one of Ceres’ craters, Hanrahan says.

Theories as to what the spots are include outgassing — the release of a gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen or absorbed in some material — or volcanic activity or reflective minerals or ice.

Meanwhile, the European Space Agency sent its Rosetta mission to “capture” a comet as it journeys across our solar system, and the mission has included everything from taking close pictures to actually landing a robot probe on the comet.

During the show, Hanrahan will present some of the best pictures from these missions, and explain what is being discovered, along with features of the current night sky.

Show times are 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions during each 45-minute live program. Children are welcome to attend. Admission for the general public is $2 and free for Mt. Hood students and employees with current ID.

For more information, visit mhcc.edu/planetarium.

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