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Planetarium offers preview of 2010 NASA mission

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

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Media Contact: Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - The public is invited to make the Planetarium at UT Arlington part of their holiday celebrations. In addition to two holiday shows, "Season of Light" and "Holiday Music Magic," star gazers can get an advance look at NASA's new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which will begin operations in 2010. The original planetarium show will run at 1:30 p.m. Sundays and 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the planetarium, 700 Planetarium Place.

The production was funded by a NASA grant and produced by The University of Texas at Arlington planetarium staff led by Levent Gurdemir. It showcases the mission with its new infrared 2.5 meter (100 inch) telescope housed in a refurbished Boeing 747SP aircraft. SOFIA will climb to altitudes up to 45,000 feet. Attaining high altitudes will enable it to leave behind 99 percent of the water vapor that restricts the capabilities of ground-based observatories over most of the infrared spectral range.

"The show contains breathtaking features about the observational potential of SOFIA, encompassing objects in the solar system, extra-solar planets, star formation regions and newborn galaxies of the early universe," said Manfred Cuntz, associate professor of physics. Cuntz was principal investigator on the grant provided by the Universities Space Research Association, among other entities, that allowed producing the show.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for age 65 and older and children under 18 or non-UT Arlington college students. Groups of 10 or more with reservations are $3 a person. During the holiday season, the planetarium will give a $1 discount on each ticket with the donation of a can of food for a needy family. The planetarium will be closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31, as well as Jan. 1. Visit www.uta.edu/planetarium for more information.

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