M42 is an emission nebula in the Northern Hemisphere
constellation Orion the Hunter. It is also known as
NGC 1976 and the Great
Nebula in Orion.
It appears as the
middle star of three making up Orion's sword. M42
is 1,500 LY* distant and 98 light years LY wide. It
can easily be seen in binoculars.
*1 LY is equal to
5.88 trillion miles
Choose from 25 Presentations with handouts, slides, and video
- The Planets. Explore the planets and moons of the solar
system with pictures taken by ground based telescopes
and interplanetary probes. Learn about the 250 (and
counting) planets discovered orbiting other stars
- The Stars. Like people, stars come in a variety of
size, color, age, and shape. They are "born",
live out an existence, and "die." Get
acquainted with blue and red giants; brown, red,
and white dwarfs; neutron stars; pulsars; black
holes; magnetars; and
- The Constellations. Ancient astrologers studied 12 groups of
stars that the five visible planets appeared to
travel through. The path they took became known
as the circle of animals (zodiac). But why did they
leave out the constellation Ophiuchus, a 13th group
of stars the sun, moon, and planets travel ‘through’?
Why is astrology medieval
superstition and not a true science? Why can't it
ever perform as astrologers claim it does? If you
know the birth dates of people who believe they
are Scorpios or Sagittarians, they may be Ophiuchans!
- The Galaxies. They are the largest, individual objects
in the universe. Our local galaxy, home of the sun
and the solar system, is called the Milky Way. It
is one of a 100 billion other galaxies that make
up the universe. Consider that an average galaxy
is made up of between 10 billion and 400 billion
- The Universe. Recent discoveries put the age of the universe
at 13.7 billion years old. Modern cosmology shows
it is finite in size, has an "edge", is
expanding, and in 100 billion years will die. We
will discuss the three ways it can end. You will
learn how to describe the size of the universe in
- The Search for ETs. Is ours the only planet with intelligent
life forms that have produced a technological civilization?
Learn about astronomical distances, space travel,
relativity, even quantum physics. Come away with
a better insight into the question, "Are we
alone in the universe?"
- Flying Saucers (UFOs) Are Real. Is there a UFO cover up as alluded to in
Have we been visited in the past? Now? Your speaker
was as close as you can get to being a real Man
He was one of 83, hand-picked field
investigators for the Center For UFO Studies during the 1970's and 80's
founded by the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek after he
left the US Air Force as its scientific advisor.
- This Season’s Night Sky. The 3,000 or so stars you can see with
the naked eye on a clear night appear to move completely
around the sky during the course of a year. In 365
days, the same stars we see tonight will be up there
again. Discover what planets, comets, star clusters,
and meteor showers, can be seen this season.
- Telescopes, Binoculars, and Astrophotography.
is a great way to find out what telescopes and binoculars
are right for you (and your budget). Learn where
to buy them, how much you’ll pay, and the
different types. If you already have one, you’ll
get tips on how to get most effective use out of
it as well as how to take pictures of the night
sky. You are welcome to bring your telescope and/or
- The Inner Solar System
An in-depth tour of the terrestrial
planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and the asteroids
as seen through the ‘eyes’ of Earth-orbiting
telescopes as well as those sent back by our robotic
explorers: Mariner, Viking, Apollo, and Pathfinder.
- The Outer Solar System
An in-depth tour of the gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn,
Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and comets as seen through
the ‘eyes’ of Earth-orbiting telescopes
as well as those sent back by our robotic explorers:
Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini.
- Getting Started in Amateur Astronomy
Bring the entire family for a down-to-Earth introduction
to beginning star gazing. You will be encouraged
to find your way around the night sky using only
your naked eye, simple star charts, and binoculars.
- The Moon
Our closest neighbor in space is the perfect place
to begin exploring the universe. More than 250 features
can be seen with only binoculars! We'll learn about
the Moon's history, its craters, mountains ranges,
seas, and oceans. Discover why it is being considered
to be more like a planet.
- Hubble Space Telescope Images. Orbiting 350 miles above the Earth and
clear of our dusty, murky atmosphere, Hubble has
sent back more than 100,000 images. See why most
of them surpass any taken by our ground based telescopes.
It images the universe as it looked 12 billion years
- Ad Astra (To
Someday we will travel to the stars. Learn about
our present-day theories on what those starships
may be like. You will discover how some that are
dreamed up by science fiction writers may be accurate
- Mars. Why has Mars always been considered a foreboding world and
named after the Roman God of War? How did the idea
of its canals get started? Is there a face on Mars?
Why is it the best planet to colonize?
- The Milky Way Galaxy
Our home galaxy contains upwards of 300 billion
stars. You will become acquainted with the Milky
Way’s size, shape, structure, and history
through stunning photographs and video clips.
- Asteroids, Meteors and Comets
Learn all about the solar system’s ‘junk’.
Discover how to see pieces of Halley's Comet twice
a year. How and when did an asteroid hit Central America and wipe out the dinosaurs and 70% of all life? What will
happen when a larger asteroid named Eros collides
with Earth in the distant future?
- The Last Day on Earth
We’ll discuss at least 15 ways life on Earth
can end due to internal and external forces? Some
events can occur in as short a time as the next
five seconds. Others can take a million or a billion
years. How close must an exploding star be to Earth
to destroy all life? No children under 12,
- Human Colonies in Space
By the year 2029, as many as 10,000 people may be
living in giant space habitats orbiting Earth. What
will they look like? Where will they be placed?
Would you believe they can be constructed using
- Reasons for the Seasons
Why is the Sun is 1 million miles closer to the
Earth in January than it is in July? Why are there
7 days in a week and 12 months in a year? Where
did the names of the days and months originate?
What planet's day is longer than its year? What
planet has double sunrises and double sunsets?
- Southfield Planetarium. Enjoy a live show in the Vollbrecht Planetarium
where Mike has given more than 200 presentations
as the resident astronomer and senior demonstrator.
Our 70-seat facility is one of a few traditional
planetariums that still uses the classic Spitz A-3P star ball projector.
- Those Impossible New Planets. After 300 years of debate and after decades
of scientific investigation, astronomers finally
hit the jackpot. Extra-solar planets have been discovered
circling distant stars! One problem. They don't
seem to fit our theories of planet formation.
- Kids In Black.
Mike ‘gears down’ two presentations,
The Search for ET and UFOs, to suit a younger audience.
He wears the "uniform" from the 1998 film,
Men in Black, and awards participants
membership certificates in the Astronomical Society
of Michigan. Inexpensive sun glasses optional.
- The Whole Shebang. A truly visual feast touring the entire
universe with images of galaxies, stars, nebulae,
planets, and moons from a personal collection of
more than 500 slides and 40 hours of video.