'Rocks From Space' lecture Saturday

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Roane State Community College’s Tamke-Allan Observatory will host a public lecture, “Rocks From Space,” at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21.

Fritz Kleinhans of Indianapolis University will present the program on his interest in meteorites.

The program will be directed to grades 5 and older. The regular stargazing will follow.

“I collect meteorites for fun,” Kleinhas said. “Iron meteorites have a wonderful heft to them, stony irons are beautiful, and they all are older than any Earth rock you will ever handle. But, of course, they also have scientific value.

Meteorites, Kleinhas said, helps scientists learn more about the raw material from which the solar system was made.

“On our planet Earth, this raw material was all melted at the time of our formation, with a separation of denser material to the center of the Earth and lighter materials to the mantle and crust of the Earth,” he explained. “On the other hand, meteorites are fragments of asteroids, and many of these were too small to ever undergo melting and differentiation.  They provide a much clearer view of the raw material from which our solar system was made.”  

Some meteorites, Kleinhas pointed out, are from Mars and the moon.  

“They make their way to Earth at no cost to us, and are a wonderful way to investigate other solar system bodies,” he said.

David Fields, director of Tamke-Allan, opens the observatory  to the public for viewing at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month.

Admission is free; visitors are encouraged to bring snacks to share.

Directions to the observatory may be found at www.roanestate.edu/obs under “Visit the Observatory.”