Out There

NASA astronomer makes sense of the cosmos

 SAT, 2/7

Will the speaker yield to a two-part question? Is it true that if a black hole's mass is more than a billion times that of the sun, the tidal gravitational forces are weak enough that a star could pass across the Event Horizon without shredding? And, if so, couldn't an accretion disk of gaseous matter do the same thing? Follow-up two-part question: Is it true that there is a man in the moon? And, if so, is that man also made of cheese?

Tough questions, indeed. Fortunately for curious stargazers of all skill levels, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science knows just the guy to answer them. Dr. Sten Odenwald comes to town today to take part in an informative question-and-answer session called The Astronomy Café -- Live. Odenwald promises to answer any and all astronomy queries, from the mind-bendingly complex to the irretrievably asinine. He's heard them all before.

Sten Odenwald has stars in his eyes.
Sten Odenwald has stars in his eyes.
 
Rob Ullman
 

Odenwald has a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard and spent years working in scientific research -- including a lengthy stint with the Space Sciences Division of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory -- before turning his focus toward education. Since then, he has earned numerous awards for his efforts and gained renown for his comprehensive Web site, www.astronomycafe.net.

"The Web site for the astronomically disadvantaged," according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is an "exemplary resource in astronomy" and covers everything from the Big Bang Theory to where to report falling rocket boosters.

Odenwald currently works with the NASA Office of Space and Science "Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum," helping develop NASA resources in solar-terrestrial science education. He has written four books on astronomy, the latest of which is Back to the Astronomy Café.

So dust off that old telescope and boldly chart the stars, then ask the learned astronomer about Jupiter and Mars. Or, at the very least, come find out why it hurts so much when you stare into the sun.

Odenwald will speak in the museum's Ricketson Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., after which he will sign autographs. Tickets are $10 for members, $13 for non-members, and $5 for children ages five to twelve. The museum is at 2001 Colorado Boulevard; for tickets and information, call 303-322-7009 or visit www.dmns.org. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Tea time at the Denver International School
SAT, 2/7

According to legend, tea was discovered by a Chinese emperor in 2737 B.C., when leaves from a nearby plant accidentally blew into a pot of boiling water. Learn more about the tea traditions of China, Algeria, India and the United Kingdom at today's second annual International Tea Party at the Denver International School.

Participants will receive passports to guide them through the different regions featured at the party, which will also include games, delectable treats and exotic teas.

"We're going to highlight the tea ceremonies from four cultures," says Lina Koppl, a DIS parent volunteer and teaching assistant who is helping to organize the event. "It's a way for us to open our doors and show off the school a bit."

The tea party will have seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Advance tickets are $5 for children and seniors, and $8 for adults ($8 and $10 at the door). Because of the limited number of spots available for each session, reservations are recommended; call 303-756-0381 to make yours. The school is at 1101 South Race Street.

The DIS offers bilingual and bicultural classes that are taught in Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese and English to over 200 students from pre-elementary to seventh grade. For more on the school, check out www.dischool.org.

In the meantime, prepare to get in your cups. "We're looking forward to sharing our special school with the general public," says Koppl. -- Julie Dunn

Flicks Are for Kids
SAT, 2/7

Kids need to have movies, just like they need to have dreams, and for them, nothing beats sitting in front of a big screen with a big bag of popcorn. But that presents a dilemma for parents, who have to decide whether they want their kids to see much of the Hollywood dreck being palmed off on youngsters these days. Like a beacon in the darkness, Kids Movie Saturdays premieres today at 12:30 p.m. at the Starz FilmCenter, 900 Auraria Parkway, with the gentle literature-to-screen offering Pete's a Pizza and More William Steig Stories, recommended for kids ages five to eight.

"We looked around the movie landscape in the Denver area and realized that kids were going to the movies, but the movies were not coming to the kids," Starz spokesman Eric Beteille says. "Rather than just the usual tagging along to a PG-13 movie, we were also looking for something a little more challenging." After all, he adds, "the parents have to go, too."

Future programs, scheduled every Saturday through the end of the year, include everything from more picture-book adaptations and mini-manga Hamtaro cartoons to a Spanish-language screening of Ice Age on April 3. Admission is $4 (children under three admitted free); call 303-820-3456. -- Susan Froyd

Whizz-popping Whimsy
The BFG offers a giant chance to imagine
TUES, 2/10

What would you do if giant kid-snacking meanies with names like Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and Bonecruncher were coming to town? Enlist the help of the Queen of England, of course. That's exactly what a little orphan named Sophie must do with the help of a big friendly giant (and vegetarian) named the BFG. The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is presenting acclaimed children's author Roald Dahl's The BFG, today through May 7. Adapted for the stage by David Wood and directed locally by Christopher Willard, the scrumdiddlyumptious story is told through a mix of puppetry, live action and pint-sized stage sets. "The play fires up the imaginations of audiences," says Willard, "inviting big and little alike to join in the journey."

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