Galactic adventures at ASU

Planetarium offers a look into the galaxies

By Eunice Tibay
On September 22, 2017

Photo by Axel Marcenaro
Dr. Kenneth Carell's astronomy class prepares for a lecture in the Vincent building in Planetarium.

On Thursday evenings, the dome-theater of the Planetarium transforms from an interactive multimedia classroom to a theater playing educational space videos in High-Definition that is open for public viewing.

Since the Planetarium’s renovation in 2010, the facility has been able to show full movies to the public in addition to being able to project and show what the constellations the sky will have for the day in real time, thanks to the latest software and equipment available.

"For projecting the sky on the dome, we use a software called Starry Night, and it controls everything that you can see on the dome," Dr. Kenneth Carrell, director of the planetarium, said. "You can set the time, day and the location."

Quick lessons about the stars and the constellations it aren’t the only things the planetarium has to offer; in fact, they also do film showings—the main attraction— where one of the movies they show is called "Stars: The Powerhouses of the Universe", which is about the life cycle of the stars.

Right now, Carrell is the main presenter during the star talk portion of the shows, although he has mentioned training the facility’s student workers so they could also be able to do the same thing in the right time.

"As student workers, we take the money whenever people come, we count how many students come in," Michaela Allen, a junior and one of the Planetarium’s student workers, said. "A couple of us are learning how to do the star talks too at the end of the show so we could tell everybody what stars up right now and what they look like".

"It’s a pretty steep learning curve to figure out how those things work," Carrell said, "I’m in the process of training some students to do it [because] it’s not something that you can step in, I can tell you about it today and tonight you can do a show. It’s not that simple usually so it takes a little bit of time to build up that knowledge to train someone to do it."

Because admission is free for students, they visit the planetarium either to check it out or as a course requirement.

"I think it was really awesome. It’s my first time ever going and experiencing it," Amanda Hubbard, freshman, said.

"It was a lot more interesting than I thought it was going to be," Amy Hubbard, who is also a freshman, added, "I really liked [how] it was really organized. It actually taught a lot, which is really cool."

The Planetarium is open to the public for shows at 7 and 8 in the evening on Thursdays with free admission for all ASU students, faculty, and staff, while $3 and $2 are the prices for adults and children, active military, and senior citizens respectively. Film showings for "Stars: The Powerhouse of the Universe" and "Dynamic Earth" will run until Nov. 16.

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