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Public invited to celebrate 50th anniversary of astronomy at UT Oct. 26

The University of Toledo is celebrating a milestone in astronomy: 50 years of education, outreach and celestial exploration.

The public is invited to an open house in honor of the 50th anniversary of UT’s astronomy program, Ritter Observatory and Planetarium, and Brooks Observatory.

The free event will take place Thursday, Oct. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at Ritter Planetarium and will feature a look back through half a century of northwest Ohio’s connection to astronomy.

“One of the joys of astronomy is that people are inherently curious about it, and so sharing our research and our telescopes with the community have been vital in our mission from the beginning,” said Dr. Jillian Bornak, associate lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and chair of the UT Astronomy 50th Anniversary Committee.

The event will include a presentation of stories submitted by Toledoans of their memories, such as visits to UT for full-dome movies, public viewings with telescopes in the observatories, and special events for Apollo 11 and the impact of the Shoemaker-Levy comet on Jupiter.

The event also will include talks by Dr. Adolf Witt, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, who served on the NASA Universe Working Group, and Dr. Jon Bjorkman, professor of physics and astronomy, who studies stellar winds.

The Ritter facility was dedicated Oct. 13, 1967. It was intended to blend research and public education for the University, local schools and community. The 1-meter-diameter telescope housed on top of the Ritter building is the largest optical telescope in the United States east of the Mississippi River.