As the planet closest to us, Venus has been a magnet for space exploration. And though Venus mirrors the size and mass of the Earth, it has evolved in a radically different way. It has a scorching hot surface, for example, and an atmosphere of noxious gases. Also, apparently women are from there. Though many unanswered questions remain about this planet, this sultry orb has fallen out of popularity with space programs in the past few years, losing funding to the more fashionable Mars (maybe because President Bush's favorite color is red). No longer. On October 26, 2005, NASA plans to launch the Venus Express, a spacecraft like the Mars Express that will study the planet as well as make global maps of surface temperatures. Fiske Planetarium educational manager Suzanne Traub-Metlay will discuss the pending flight in far greater detail tonight at 8 p.m. in a lecture entitled Colorado Skies: Venus Express at Fiske, located on Regent Drive on the CU-Boulder campus. Ticket prices range from $3.50-$6, and the talk is free for CU students with a valid ID. For more information, call 303-492-5002, or log on to http://www.colorado.edu/fiske/home.html.
Friday, July 1
Denver's Fairmount Cemetery and Mortuary, 430 South Quebec Street, has been turning heads lately with a series of billboards featuring black-and-white photographs of the deceased, a note on their accomplishments -- "Walked on all seven continents," for one man -- and the tag line "Celebrating lives well lived." Today Fairmount aims to continue the buzz and bring more people through the gates -- alive -- with the initial First Friday for Families Walking Tours. The cemetery's historic Ivy Chapel will open at 5:30 p.m.; for $15, families can embark on a two-hour walking tour that begins at 6:30 p.m. and highlights military veterans -- such as Lieutenant Francis B. Lowry, for whom Lowry Air Force Base was named -- who are buried there. (This particular tour is in recognition of the Fourth of July weekend.) Families are invited to picnic on the grounds after the walk. For details, call 303-399-0692.
Saturday, July 2
This is the first Saturday of the month, so pry the kids from their morning cartoons and take them to the Bluff Lake Nature Center, 7350 East 29th Avenue. Though the youngsters may object to your curious behavior, once they catch a glimpse of their first bald eagle, all thoughts of SpongeBob will vanish. At 7 a.m., Bluff Lake naturalist Carl Wells will lead the Bluff Lake Birders on a two-hour ramble through the trails at Bluff Lake in search of all things avian. More than 130 species of birds have been spied there over the years, so bring binoculars and bird books if you've got them, but don't worry if you don't. For more information, call 303-468-3240.
Sunday, July 3
For more than two decades, The Great Race -- a time/speed/ endurance road rally for vintage automobiles manufactured at least 45 years ago -- has stopped in more than 800 cities, spawning free family celebrations along the way. Racers have logged almost 6,000,000 vehicle miles, making stops near some of the continent's most famous landmarks, including the White House, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and even Mexico City's La Plaza de la Reforma. While racers must have enjoyed these locations, nothing could have prepared them for their latest destination -- the Westminster Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Boulevard. View hundreds of classic rides -- V-8 Fords, vintage Corvettes and Chevrolets, cars you typically only see in museums -- pull onto hotel grounds around 6 p.m. The caravan heads out early Monday morning, so make sure you get a glance before they're just taillights. Log on to www.greatrace.com for more details.
Monday, July 4
Of all the proud, historic moments that took place during the American Revolution -- the Boston Tea Party, the meetings of the Founding Fathers at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Johnny Tremain struggling with his lobster-like claw -- there was no more triumphant occasion than the time-honored moment when the British decided to flee. Who can forget all those great artistic renditions from the history books of the exact second those terrified wankers rushed toward the sea like lemmings, hurling themselves into the water and actually trying to swim back to "mighty Britain"? Sweet, except that it didn't happen that way. But that doesn't mean we can't pretend it did, and what better way to do so than by sprinting in today's Freedom Run? The race begins at 8 p.m. at the Washington Park Boat House, 700 South Downing Street. Registration is $28 and benefits the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado. Though mocking the British is certainly not the ACLU's intent, there's no reason it can't be yours. For more information, visit www.aclu-co.org/events.
Hey! It's the Fourth of July! How does a little baseball sound? Well, the Rockies are . . . hey, where are you going? Oh, come on, they're not that bad. At least they're playing the Dodgers, and they're fun. Stay for fireworks after the game (can you say, "Rockpile seats at $4?") So come on out to Coors Field, 20th and Blake streets, for the first pitch at 6:05 p.m. This is your chance to see something other than a Rox bullpen blow up. For tickets, visit www.coloradorockies.com.