|Jupiter and Saturn also make special appearances during “Mars Month”|
|Humans have long been fascinated by Mars — for its proximity in our solar system, its similar features to Earth, the possibility that it once may have held life and even for the possibility that it could be a destination for the survival of humankind.|
We got our first good look at Mars when Mariner 4 took pictures as it made its closest approach to the planet in July 1965. We made our first landing there in 1976 and, in February 2021, we’re scheduled to land Perseverance, which will undertake the most technologically advanced exploration of the Red Planet yet.
Here on Earth, Mars is growing ever closer to us as it nears opposition (on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth) on Oct. 13, presenting the best opportunity for viewing the planet in nearly two decades — an event ripe for celebration. And The Bishop is doing just that for “Mars Month,” a series of special Mars-centric online and in-person programs throughout September and October.
“Mars has fascinated backyard astronomers, scientists, and people around the world for thousands of years,” said Howard Hochhalter, Manager of The Planetarium at The Bishop. “Authors have been writing about it since Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli first described the shading on its surface. In our collective imagination, we’re either being invaded by it like in War of the Worlds or we’re conquering it like in The Martian. But whether it’s fear or fascination, the Red Planet certainly holds our attention. So why not use opposition as an opportunity to celebrate it?”
“Mars Month” programs at The Bishop will explore everything from how we launch the rockets that will get us to Mars to myths about Mars, and even opportunities for in-person viewing.
“September and October offer the best opportunities for viewing Mars,” Hochhalter said. “But that’s not the only cool thing happening in our night skies this fall. Jupiter and Saturn are also working up to a spectacular action of their own as they move toward the Great Conjunction, which will take place in December. That means they’re getting closer and closer to each other — it’s like starting the countdown for the ball to drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Except the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter happens only once every 20 years.”
|Mars Month Programs & Registration|
|To register for The Bishop’s “Mars Month” programs, visit www.BishopScience.org/MarsMonth.|
|We’re celebrating “Mars Month” with both online and in-person programs. For events at the Museum, we will follow social distancing measures and limit capacity. Masks are required for all staff and visitors over the age of 2. For more information on what The Bishop is doing to keep visitors safe, visit www.BishopScience.org/Welcome-Back/. |
7 p.m. Sept. 9: think + drink / science: “Is it Rocket Science?”During think + drink / science, the day’s expert begins the evening with a presentation then we open the floor for discussion. On Sept. 9, Propulsion Engineer Amy Besio will join us for a rocket-focused virtual program on Zoom. How are rockets designed? What do we need to escape Earth’s gravity? You’ll get an insider’s look at current space vehicles and Besio’s unique perspective on what it will take to get us to Mars. The presentation will be followed by Q&A.Cost: $3 for members of The Bishop’s Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: On Zoom
10:30 a.m. Sept. 12: KidSpaceWe unleash the awesome power of the universe during this virtual program on Zoom as we talk about our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. We’ll have a special focus on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. KidSpace is designed for grades 1-5 and their grown-ups, but everyone is welcome!Cost: FreeWhere: On Zoom
10:30 a.m. Sept. 19: Intro to MarsJoin The Bishop’s Planetarium Manager Howard Hochhalter for this virtual program on Zoom as members of the local astronomy club, the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers, join us for a beginners’ discussion about Mars.Cost: $3 for members of The Bishop’s Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: On Zoom
7 p.m. Sept. 23: StelliferousPlanetarium Manager Howard Hochhalter takes you on a live guided tour of the night skies. His focus will include Mars, of course, along with Jupiter, Saturn and what’s happening with the constellations. Then, he’ll open the floor for an always-fun question and answer session. Stelliferous is great for curious adults and inquisitive kids alike.Cost: $3 for members of the Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: On Zoom
10:30 a.m. Sept. 26: KidSpaceWe unleash the awesome power of the universe during this virtual program on Zoom as we talk about our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. We’ll have a special focus on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. KidSpace is designed for grades 1-5 and their grown-ups, but everyone is welcome!Cost: FreeWhere: On Zoom
4:30, 5:30 & 6:30pm Oct. 6: Members’ Night ExclusiveMembers of The Bishop’s Discovery Society are invited to join us in-person at the Museum for a fascinating Mars-focused show in The Planetarium and exclusive access to our newest special exhibition, Water’s Extreme Journey.Note: This program is for members of The Bishop’s Discovery Societyonly. Click here to join now.
8 p.m. Oct. 9: Mars Viewing OpportunityJoin us for an evening outdoor observing program in The Bishop’s North Plaza as we welcome volunteers from members of the local astronomy club the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers, who will help you view Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn through their telescopes. Experience the awe-inspiring wonder of backyard astronomy for yourself! (Please note: Rain date is Oct. 10.)Cost: $3 for members of the Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: At The Bishop
10:30 a.m. Oct. 10: KidSpaceWe unleash the awesome power of the universe during this virtual program on Zoom as we talk about our solar system, our galaxy and our universe. We’ll have a special focus on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. KidSpace is designed for grades 1-5 and their grown-ups, but everyone is welcome!Cost: FreeWhere: On Zoom
4 p.m. Oct. 10: IQuest “Mission to Mars”IQuest is a monthly drop-off program for smart, curious middle school students in grades 6 through 8. On Oct. 10, we’ll focus on Mars: When will we go there? What would it be like to live there? Kids will explore the challenges and imagine the future of this next great adventure for humankind!Cost: $8 (includes pizza and a drink); paid reservations required before 11 a.m. Oct. 10 Where: At The Bishop
Noon Oct. 13: Star Talk TuesdayIt’s the big day! Join us on Facebook as we focus our Star Talk Tuesday weekly program on Mars at opposition!Cost: FreeWhere: On The Bishop’s Facebook page
10:30 a.m. Oct. 17: Ask Howard Anything: Mars EditionHave a question about Mars? Now’s your opportunity to Ask Howard Anything during this virtual program on Zoom. Planetarium manager Howard Hochhalter will be joined by members from the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers, who will share their knowledge as well.Cost: $3 for members of the Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: On Zoom
7 p.m. Oct. 21: Mars MythsMars has inspired the mythologies of cultures around the world for thousands of years. Join The Bishop Curator Tiffany Birakis as she explores some of the enduring myths surrounding the Red Planet, and how these ancient myths have influenced our current cultural beliefs. Cost: $3 for members of the Discovery Society; $5 for all othersWhere: On Zoom
|Opposition is when a planet or moon in our solar system is on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth, making it appear fully luminated by the Sun and brighter than when it’s in any other position. In addition to being at opposition on Oct. 13, Mars will be making its closest approach to Earth around the same time. This combination of astronomical events is expected to make Mars appear especially bright. |
A conjunction is when two celestial objects temporarily appear to be close together. The Great Conjunction refers to the conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn, which only happens every 20 years. In 2020, the Great Conjunction happens on Dec. 21, which also happens to be the winter solstice. Here’s a monthly timeline of how far apart the two largest planets in our solar system will appear:
Sept. 21 – Jupiter and Saturn appear 7.9 degrees apart.Oct. 21 – They appear 6.4 degrees apart.Nov. 21 – The separation between the two planets will be 3.2 degrees.Dec. 21 – The two planets appear in the southwestern sky just after sunset, 0.1 degree apart — that’s about the width of 1/10th of your pinky held at arm’s length away from your face. This will be the closest conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn since 1623.
|As the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature (formerly South Florida Museum) offers fun and engaging exhibitions and programs that interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to permanent exhibitions, The Bishop features a constantly changing lineup of special exhibitions — offering something new to discover with each visit — and Pathways, a custom, interactive app that offers guests specially curated tours of the Museum.|
The Bishop includes an all-digital Planetarium — the only one of its kind on Florida’s Gulf Coast — the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, where we help rehabilitate sick or injured manatees for their return to the wild, and the Mosaic Backyard Universe, built especially for young children and their families.
Our Mission: To engage and inspire learners of all ages; we protect, interpret and communicate scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world, and our universe.
Visit www.BishopScience.org for hours, info and admission details or call 941-746-4131.
|Adults 18-64, $20 | Seniors (65+), $19 | Youth 12-17 and College Students with ID, $16 | Children 5-11, $12 | Children 4 and younger admitted free with a paying adult.|
Free Admission for Discovery Society Members | Florida Teachers and Active Duty military (with ID) | Museums for All participantsThanks to Our Corporate Partners:Blake Medical Center | BMO Harris Bank | Bradenton Herald | Manatee Herald-Tribune | Mosaic | NetWeave Social Networking | Northern Trust | SRQ Media | WUSF Public Media