NASA’s Search for New Planets Topic of Upcoming Astronomy Open House

NASA’s missions to discover planets outside the solar system is the highlight of the Astronomy Lecture & Observatory Open House, April 6, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Willie Miller Instructional Center, Lemerand Auditorium.

Embry-Riddle’s Physical Sciences Department and the College of Arts & Sciences welcomes Dr. Derek Buzasi, of Florida Gulf Coast University and a former physics professor for the U.S. Air Force Academy. The title of his presentation is “The Stars in Time: Rotation, Activity and Planetary Habitability.”

Buzasi will discuss NASA’s planet-hunting missions, the Kepler space telescope, which was launched in 2009 and will soon come to an end, and NASA’s next planet hunter, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite). TESS is scheduled to launch April 16 and is expected to find thousands of unseen planets outside the solar system, known as exoplanets, in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky.

The COAS Observatory in the College of Arts & Sciences building then opens at 8 p.m. It’s your chance to look through a remarkable telescope, the 1-meter (40 inches) Ritchey–Chrétien reflecting telescope high atop COAS. Hosted by the Embry–Riddle Amateur Astronomy Club and the Embry–Riddle Observatory, the Astronomy Lecture and Open House events are free and open to the public.

The observatory open house will also include the Yuri’s Fort Night competition.

Ten pre-registered teams of six people will build cardboard “space forts” reminiscent of the International Space Station modules in celebration of Yuri’s Night. Teams must pre-register for the event which will take place in two COAS classrooms.

Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to venture into space on April 12, 1961, and to honor the inaugural launch of the first Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981.

For more information on the space fort activity, contact Dr. Ryan Kobrick, assistant professor of Spaceflight Operations and international chairman of Yuri’s Night, at For other Yuri’s Night events, visit:

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