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Got Aliens?

Got Aliens?

Robert Ferguson Observatory offers new astronomy speaker series

The Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO), located in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, is launching a new speaker series for 2021. The series consists of monthly presentations geared toward stargazers and anyone else who is interested in astronomy-related topics. The free talks are open to the public and are currently being offered virtually, until such time as the observatory itself can reopen to the public.

The presentations are being held the second Friday evening each month at 6:00 p.m., with the next being presented by RFO docent Sam Cena on March 12. The topic will be the Fermi paradox, named after the Italian- American physicist Enrico Fermi, who explored the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates of their probability.

Looking at the night sky, we see beauty that can be truly fascinating, but it can also be scary. As Sir Arthur Clark once said, “We are either alone in this universe or we are not and both these ideas are equally scary.”

It is in human nature to explore, question and discover phenomena in the world. Considering that the earth is just a drop in the cosmic ocean, could there be another earth-like planet somewhere? If yes, what are the odds? Have we found any evidence yet? How can we find out? Future presentation topics include exploring Mars’ atmosphere, the Drake equation, which is a mathematical method used to estimate possible life on other planets in our galaxy, and many more. Speakers will include both RFO docents and other experts. The observatory is exploring offering some presentations in Spanish. “We are following the county’s orders to not hold public events indoors,” says Chris Cable, executive director of Robert Ferguson Observatory. “But our knowledgeable and dedicated docents managed to create programs that will help inspire the public and continue our mission of bringing the universe to our community.”

The speaker series is one of several programs the observatory is offering to the public during the pandemic. Since last summer, RFO has also offered a variety of outdoor public events. Visit to see the calendar of upcoming events for more information.

The 40” telescope at Robert Ferguson Observatory at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.Photo by Mark Hillestad