Event Date

May 3, 2013

View Photos From Space - Hear About Student Scientists

Davis Observatory Celebrates 10 Years With Lectures, Arts, Star Parties

Students at WNCs Jack C. Davis Observatory
Students at WNC's Jack C. Davis Observatory

More than a decade ago, Western Nevada College physics professor Robert Collier’s dream came true. His vision, the desire by his students to learn about astronomy, and a community’s willingness all converged to create the Jack C. Davis Observatory.

Now, WNC and the observatory staff and volunteers have planned a stellar celebration from May-2-15 to commemorate 10 years of science and discovery in Nevada’s capital city.

“One of my high school English teachers said to me, ‘Bob, hitch your wagon to a star’,” said Collier, a physics/astronomy professor emeritus and director of the observatory. He took the advice literally, especially when he realized that WNC’s location in Carson City possessed the perfect environment for a successful observatory. “High altitude, arid skies, and low light levels are major physical characteristics needed for observatories to operate so new discoveries can be made from Earth,” Collier said.

Collier and the WNC Foundation began a community-wide fundraising campaign to construct an observatory that could be used by students, scientists and the community. It was jumpstarted by a $100,000 grant from the Nevada Gaming Education Foundation, assisted by WNC’s first president, Jack C. Davis. From there, individuals, businesses, local scientists, college faculty and staff, school children, the Nevada State Museum, and even famed astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon, helped the college raise the needed funds.

Aldrin returned for the observatory’s First Light on May 15, 2003, along with hundreds of well-wishers. Since then, the observatory has regularly offered college classes, hosted science workshops for teachers and experts, presented distinguished lectures, captured valuable data and photos of space, and provided hundreds of Saturday evening ‘Star Parties’ where the public can visit free and look through telescopes as well as hear a lecture about science and the skies.

The 10th Anniversary features lectures by two distinguished researchers.

Dr. Wendy Calvin of the Mackey School of Earth Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno will speak on Thursday, May 2. She has spent more than a decade researching for NASA and the Department of Energy. Her major scientific discoveries have included identifying oxygen on Ganymede, large path lengths in ice for the seasonal polar cap of Mars, and identification of ammonia ices on Pluto’s satellite Charon. She is also a member of the been Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Color Imager and Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars science teams.

Dr. Candice Hansen-Koharecheck of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., will speak on Friday, May 3. She works on the Cassini mission to Saturn with the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) investigation team, responsible for planning and analyzing icy satellite data. She led the science team for Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Titan Orbiter. Dr. Hansen is also currently the Deputy Principal Investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.


“Roving Mars: From Sojourner Through Curiosity”
Lecture by Dr. Wendy Calvin, Director, Center for Geothermal Energy
7 pm • Marlette Hall, Cedar Building
Topic: The evolution of engineering and landing systems as well as how our scientific knowledge about Mars has advanced.
Free Admission

Cassini the Space Probe & the Moons of Saturn
Lecture with Dr. Candice Hansen-Koharecheck
Planetary Scientist, Led science team for Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Titan Orbiter
7 pm • Marlette Hall, Cedar Building
Free Admission

Star Party for the public
8:45 pm • Jack C Davis Observatory
All are invited to enjoy telescope stargazing of the night sky
Free Admission

Science Week at WNC
11 am-2 pm • Bristlecone Building Main Lobby, Carson City Campus
WNC science faculty & students will participate in daily experiments and demonstrations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Davis Observatory Photography Exhibit & Student Lecture
4:30- 6:30 pm • Bristlecone Building Art Galleries
View space photography by Western Nevada Astronomical Society
Member and Observatory volunteer John Dykes.

Learn about the history and future of the Jack C. Davis Observatory.
View profiles of several former WNC astronomy students who now work in the fields of physics & astronomy, and hear from a successful student about her work with cosmic rays.

Press Release: April 25, 2013


Photo Gallery
Photos (Click to Enlarge)
Dr. Candice Hansen-Koharecheck Dr. Wendy Calvin with Rover Model  
Dr. Candice Hansen-KoharecheckDr. Wendy Calvin with Rover Model  
For additional information, please contact:
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E-mail: info_desk@wnc.edu

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