NACOGDOCHES, TX - The Stephen F. Austin State University Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Teaching Excellence Center will host a lecture and stargazing reception at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, in the Nursing and Math Building, Room 101.

Dr. Robert Gruebel, professor of physics at SFA, will speak on his experiences at the Galileo symposium in Florence, Italy. Following the lecture, a replica of Galileo's original telescope will be available for guests to view the night sky.

"Galileo's greatest contribution was to look critically and analytically at new ideas," said Gruebel. "He challenged philosophers of the time and backed up his reasoning with physical evidence."

Dr. Norman Markworth recalls this type of lecture inspiring him as a fledgling scientist, and the SFA astronomy professor hopes this event will have the same effect on young guests.

"Formal lectures can be formative experiences for budding scientists," he said.

The International Astronomical Union has named 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope. Significant advances in astronomy and science will be celebrated throughout the year, and various events around the world are planned.

The lecture is the first of several planned on-campus Science and Mathematics Discovery Events designed to showcase opportunities available in the College of Science and Mathematics at SFA. The event is free and open to the public.