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Oct. 28, 2002

Calvin Helps Nova

On Tuesday, October 29, PBS will air a special two-hour episode of Nova (from 8-10 pm) entitled "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens." Among the visuals illustrating Galileo's discoveries will be images of Venus and Jupiter taken by Calvin College students.

How PBS discovered the Calvin students is an interesting example of life in the internet age. Simply put, says Calvin astronomy professor Larry Molnar, when the people producing the Nova special began their work among the things they did for research was an internet search. That search yielded the homepage for the Calvin College Observatory and a gallery of images taken by Calvin students using the school's primary Celestron telescope and a digital camera along with a PC and a special astronomy software package.

The Nova producers liked what they saw so much they contacted Calvin, asking for permission to use the images. Molnar happily complied, supplying the show with a number of high-quality images. In fact, later Nova asked for a wide field image of how Venus looks to an observer without a telescope. So Molnar took a photo from the Calvin courtyard of Venus as the evening star above an identifiable silhouette of the Calvin Science Building. He doesn't know whether they included that shot in the final cut or not. But he does know that "Calvin College Observatory" will be included in the credits at the end of the program.

Calvin plans to show the special in its new DeVos Communication Center (dedicated on October 25) on the four plasma screens in the building's main lobby.

Read the GR Press story

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)