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Planetarium celebrates Cassini spacecraft for September show

In 2004, an unmanned spacecraft became the first probe to enter the orbit of Saturn after a six-and-a-half year journey, where it has remained in operation ever since. Christened the Cassini-Huygens after the discoverers of Saturn’s ring divisions and its largest moon, Titan, the probe’s mission consisted of several objectives meant to gather more knowledge about the mysterious ringed planet.

On September 15, 2017, the Cassini spacecraft will enter its “grand finale” phase, spiraling into Saturn’s atmosphere after over a decade of transmitting images and data back to Earth. The College of Idaho’s Whittenberger Planetarium will celebrate the Cassini mission on the very same day for its monthly show, which seeks to do the same thing the Cassini endeavored to do — teach others more about the universe around us.

“The Cassini mission has been my favorite mission during my 17 years as planetarium director,” Planetarium Director Amy Truksa said. “When I was a child, I fell in love with Saturn the first time I looked at it through a telescope because I could actually see the rings, just like the pictures of it. The images Cassini has sent back are even more breathtaking.”

The Planetarium’s show will focus not only on the history of the Cassini mission and some of its findings, but also on the stunning images the probe gathered over the last several years. Truksa said the show would also share information about Saturn itself, including how to find it nestled among other constellations.

“Not only are many of the images incredibly beautiful to look at, many of them carry an immense amount of science and scientific discovery about the Saturnian system and our solar system,” Truksa said. “I will provide a variety of images to share—some heavy on the science, some a blend of science and beauty, and some just beautiful images of this other world.”

The show will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Whittenberger Planetarium on The College of Idaho campus. Advanced ticket purchase is strongly encouraged due to limited seating. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.collegeofidaho.edu/planetarium.

The planetarium is located in Boone Science Building near Jewett Auditorium on the corner of 20th Ave. and Fillmore St. in Caldwell.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.