Today: Jul 17, 2024

Planetarium reopens

Sofia RositaniEditor-in-Chief

The Planetarium at Morrill has been reopened after 15 years of being closed.  

“In about 2019, the neuroscience department contacted the physics department and we sort of began a collaboration at that time, where physics professors would teach the astronomy course that is offered within that science and as a result of that we’ve wound up talking about both the campus planetarium and the campus observatory,” Chairperson of the physics department, Elliot Horch said.  

The planetarium seats about 45 people and they held two shows so those who wanted to see it had the chance to. Throughout the semester they will be holding a show once a month.  

“Students, faculty and staff are welcome to come to those events as they can,” Horch said.  

They also hope to develop an outreach program where students from middle schools and high schools can visit campus and see the planetarium.  

“We bought a brand-new digital projector which is now in that space as well which allows us to watch, essentially, movies of the sky so we can put the sky in motion capture a lot of different kinds of content and there are speakers that go along with that system so we can run 10 movies that are sort of like IMAX movies,” Horch said.  

Compared to the old-style projector, where a person would have to narrate and hold a laser pointer, this one you do not have to do that.  

“But with the new projector, the sky’s the limit, there are just all sorts of movies that you can buy and display on the dome. And of course, they include really beautiful pictures of the night sky,” Horch said.  

With the planetarium reopened, they hope to bring more astronomy classes, and even a minor, into the university. Especially since the physics department has hired a new astronomy professor.  

“Well, there’s a big universe out there so it’s hard to wrap your head around a lot of it even for us professionals sometimes but it is truly an exciting and beautiful field,” Horch said.  

Psychology major Alexandria DePaul, a senior, says she did not know the university had a planetarium, something that Horch hears a lot from students.  

Another student, music major Stefania Forte, a sophomore, said she also did not know there was a planetarium on campus.

DePaul only has in-person classes one day a week, so she did not see any signs nor hear about it. 

“I don’t think it has a benefit unless someone is interested in it for a hobby. However, classes or clubs can be added that involve using it for people that want to learn more,” DePaul said.  

DePaul said she would be interested in visiting the planetarium because she loves astrology and the planets, but as a psychology major, she has no interest in astronomy classes or any class that the planetarium would benefit.  

“I would like to take a class like that for enjoyment, but I don’t have the money or credits to waste a class,” DePaul said. 

DePaul suggests having events involving the planetarium but does not have time to join a club involved with it.  

Sarah SheltonPhoto Editor contributed to this article.

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