Staerkel Planetarium asks for your vote on top astronomical discovery

CHAMPAIGN — To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College wants local folks to vote on what they believe is the most fascinating astronomical discovery of the last quarter century.

"After we got the idea to feature an astronomical discovery during the time the planetarium has been open, the list of possible topics got to be long," planetarium director David Leake said in a news release. "We decided to get the public involved to help us decide."

People may go online to cast a vote. The votes will be tabulated March 1, and a scientist will present a talk on the winning topic for the planetarium's April 5 "World of Science" talk.

Leake asked several astronomers from the University of Illinois to help with the list of discoveries. They narrowed the original list to a top 10, including (in no particular order):

— Dark energy and the accelerating universe.

— Extrasolar planets orbiting other stars.

— The first views from the surface of Saturn's moon, Titan, and its lakes.

— Confirmation of the Kuiper Belt in the outer solar system.

— Evidence of water on Mars.

— The Hubble Deep Field image.

— Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashing into Jupiter.

— Geysers on Neptune's moon, Triton and Saturn's moon, Enceledas.

— Sun/Earth relationships and the effects of coronal mass ejections.

— The view of stars orbiting the black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

A link to the survey may be found on the front page of the Staerkel Planetarium's website at http://www.parkland.edu/planetarium.

To count, the votes must be received by the end of the work day Feb. 28.

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