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“Looking up at the night sky and coming up with ideas of what these bodies represent is a fundamental part of our species, and how we became storytellers,” said Samuel Singer, director of education at Wyoming Stargazing, of the planets that we see as stars in the night sky. Singer will present the second presentation in the “Mysteries of the Solar System” series on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Teton County Library. The talk is titled “Rocky Planets: Stories of Fire and Ice.”

Samuel Singer, the founder of Wyoming Stargazing, is so fascinated by space that, if given the chance, he would live there.

“If I was offered a spot on the one-way mission to Mars, I would totally take it,” Singer said. “I’ve always wanted to live in space.”

While he has no plans to move to space yet, every other Thursday until April 9 Singer will lead a series of educational talks titled “The Mysteries of the Solar System” at Teton County Library. The series seeks to celebrate what scientists have learned about how the solar system, while also exploring the unknown.

“Mysteries are the norm in the solar system,” Singer said. “The wonderful thing about space exploration is that every time we answer a question, three new questions pop up.”

From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Singer will discuss the rocky planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

“First, we will talk about why we have little rocky planets so close to our sun, because that isn’t the norm in other planetary systems,” Singer said.

Afterwards he will delve into the mysteries surrounding each of the planets.

For instance, while Mars is tiny compared with Earth, “it has volcanoes that are three times the size of Mount Everest and canyons that are several times larger than the Grand Canyon,” Singer said.

There is no consensus about how forces on this small planet created such massive landforms.

Astronomers’ biggest inquiry about Earth may seem obvious: Why is life here and not anywhere else in the solar system? During the talk Singer will cover theories about how life began on Earth and how that life is related to another curious aspect about our planet — the fact it contains water.

But is Earth really that special? If you take a telescope and scan the night sky you will find there are other places in our solar system that show evidence of water: two reflective, ice-covered moons. The two moons, Europa, Jupiter’s smallest moon, and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, may contain the ingredients for life.

“There is probably more liquid water on Europa than on Earth,” Singer said.

Astronomers have observed fractures in the ice on both moons, which indicate that the oceans beneath are moving. One idea suggests that the water is moving due to the presence of hydrothermal vents on the bottom of the ocean floor.

“If that’s the case, then it is totally feasible that complex life may have evolved deep below Europa’s icy crust without seeing the light of day, just as complex life evolved at deep sea vents in our oceans,” Singer said.

Audiences will have to wait until March 5, when Singer covers “Gas Giants” to learn more.

Ultimately the “Mysteries of the Solar System Series” is about giving people a basic understanding of this “absolutely amazing world we live in and the larger existence it has within our solar system,” Singer said.

Through his talks at the library, and his educational efforts through Wyoming Stargazing, Singer enables people to explore “the extraordinary in the ordinary.” To those fortunate enough to live in Jackson, a dark, star- filled night sky is commonplace. Singer hopes people will break their normal routines and become curious about these celestial wonders hidden in plain sight.

“Looking up at the night sky and coming up with ideas of what these bodies represent is a fundamental part of our species, and how we became storytellers,” Singer said. “When we look up at the night sky we are connecting to our humanity.”

To find a schedule for the “Mysteries of the Solar System Series,” which outlines what topics will be covered and when, you can visit the library’s website.

Contact Becca Harris via 732-7062 or entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com.

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