Venus, Earth's sister planet, is only 100 million miles away, making it the brightest and possibly the most beautiful natural object in our night sky (besides the moon, of course). The Pleiades star cluster--or "the Seven Sisters"--is also bright and beautiful, because it's one of the closest open clusters to Earth. Still, the Seven Sisters are stars, so compared to Venus, they're pretty darn far away ... hundreds of trillions of miles.
This week, however, Venus and the star cluster will be very close together--at least, they'll appear that way in the sky as the planet moves through its highest position and passes right by the Pleiades. And interestingly enough, looking at both objects next to each other is the best way to sense the extreme distance between them. That's because, when looking at the Pleiades--which are about 400 light years away--we're effectively looking back 400 years, but when we look at Venus, we're only looking back about 9 minutes. It kind of boggles the mind.
"[Y]ou won't often get to see two dramatic objects ... of greatly differing distances and natures in the same telescopic and binocular field of view," says Mike Terenzoni, the Flandrau Science Center's astronomy coordinator. In fact, Venus passes the Pleiades only every two to three years, so now's the time to view them. As an added bonus, Saturn will be right overhead.
If you don't happen to own the equipment to view these wonders, starting this Wednesday you can stop by the UA mall outside the Flaudrau Science Center and use its giant telescopes and binoculars for free. In addition, on Thursday and Friday you can view exhibits, experience special Virtual Planetarium presentations and absorb the knowledge of volunteers from the International Dark Sky Association. Exhibits and presentations cost $2.50 and are great for people of all ages. --A.M.
So you think your dog is pretty special? Special enough to be on the cover of Tucson Lifestyle magazine? Well, your adorable canine will have the chance to prove itself and show off its personality and looks to a celebrity panel.
After a minimum donation is given to the Southern Arizona Humane Society, owners will line up and walk their dogs up to the judges, where a picture of the dog will be taken and a few questions will be asked: name, breed, personality traits.
"The dog doesn't have to be a pure-bred," says Julia Anglin of Tucson Lifestyle. "Mutts are cute, and no previous modeling experience is necessary."
Anglin says that the judges tend to look for the most photogenic dogs with the best personalities to grace the cover of Tucson Lifestyle. The celebrity panel will include Guy Atchley of KGUN News, Bill Buckmaster of KUAT, Tom McNamara of KVOA, Blake from 92.9 The Mountain and Scott Barker of Tucson Lifestyle magazine.
Anglin says that fun questions, such as what the dog's favorite chew toy is, will be asked in order to get a glimpse at the dog's personality.
"The questions will probably get more unique as the day progresses," says Anglin.
While owners wait to present their dogs for judging, dog-friendly items will be raffled off. There will also be booths representing pet-friendly businesses, and music will be provided by 92.9 The Mountain. All proceeds from the event will go to the Southern Arizona Humane Society.
If you think your lovable dog has the looks and personality to grace the cover of Tucson Lifestyle magazine, you shouldn't miss this doggy event. A minimum donation of $10 per dog is required, and all dogs are welcome to enter. --K.H.
The trains that run through this town have always been a huge part of Tucson. But have you ever stopped and contemplated a moving train? A near relic in the history of transportation, the train will be showcased in filmmaker Bill Daniel's recent film, Who is Bozo Texino?
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (SATM) are joining to help showcase Daniel's film about a quest to uncover the mystery behind the 80-year appearance of the mythic rail graffiti seen on railcars. By combining the efforts, MOCA and SATM hope to help people realize the parallels between transportation and art.
"This is an opportunity for people who don't realize they have a common interest," says event producer Lissa Gibbs. "I like to think of it as train oldster meets art hipster."
Who is Bozo Texino? will be shown outdoors at the Historic Train Depot as the train runs by, says Gibbs.
Daniel, who has traveled to about 180 cities around the country, prefers to share his film with audiences in person, rather than on television.
"Just like a band goes on the road to perform their music, Bill Daniel does the same with his films," says Gibbs.
Daniel will also be in town the night before the Who is Bozo Texino? event with an impromptu sidewalk film showing. Gibbs says Daniel will park his '65 Chevy on Congress Street and project a film onto sails he mounts on top of his vehicle.
To see the unique work of this maverick filmmaker and experience an evening dedicated to love of the rails, head over to the Historic Train Depot. The film contains brief moments of swearing. General admission costs $5; it's free to MOCA and SATM members. Visit www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org for information. --K.H.
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!" So says Algernon Montcrieff in one of Oscar Wilde's most famous works, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Wilde proves the statement 10 times over as his play reveals the artifice of human society in all its most complicated--and hilarious--manifestations.
The plot is too complex to detail here, but basically, it follows two young, wealthy British dandies as they both adopt the name "Ernest" in an attempt to escape their everyday lives and to win female admiration. Jack Worthing, the protagonist, takes on the fictitious identity every time he slips away to London to visit Gwendolyn, a charming female who seems to love him only because he calls himself Ernest (in her opinion, the most beautiful name in the world). Algy Montcrieff, Jack's friend and Gwendolyn's cousin, finds out "Ernest's" real name and decides to take the false one for himself as well, using it to woo Jack's pretty young ward, Cecily. The result? Lots of comic misunderstandings.
"The exposure of the truth in this play is where the comedy really comes from," says director Betsy Kruse Craig of Pima Community College Theatre Arts, which will be putting on the play this week. "We've got all these people in love with each other under extreme constraints, and it's their societal manners that make the tension really fun. ... This play may have been written at the turn of the century, but it's a masterpiece of artifice in contemporary society and it's scathingly similar to what we deal with now.
"This is one of those plays where literally every other line is funny," Craig says. "You can't not enjoy it." Tickets cost $6 to $10. --A.M.