Willimantic, Conn.— On the evening of Oct. 6, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Wickware Planetarium hosted an educational and entertaining star show about the lunar eclipse, to occur on Oct. 8, and the partial solar eclipse that is to occur on Oct. 23.
The show started with Zoran Pazameta, director of the planetarium, using the star projector to demonstrate the skies at the current time of year and to point out planets, constellations and other interesting aspects of the cosmos. During the presentation Eastern students working toward an astronomy minor operated the star projector. During the second half of the show, Russell Sampson, assistant director of the planetarium, discussed interesting developments in the world of astronomy. An alumnus, Adam St. Denis ‘14, who has been attending star shows since he was an undergraduate, said that Sampson’s presentations are, “always hilarious and informative. They usually close with a questionnaire session, where the audience is free to ask anything they can think up. Some questions actually prompt very in-depth discussions on topics that weren’t initially part of the show.”
The audience at star shows usually consists of the public and Eastern faculty and staff, but more and more students are attending them. “Most times when I’ve gone, I’ll hear ‘Wow, I didn’t even know we had this!’ or something along those lines.” St. Denis said, “Some people really fall in love with it once they go. It’s great for students because it’s free with the reservation of a ticket. It could even make for a nice, cheap date.”
The Planetarium, which is part of the Physical Sciences Department, also offers the Astronomy Outreach and Public Presentation minor, designed to give students the necessary skills to present astronomy in a K-12 or public setting. Students in the minor have the opportunity for real world practice, as the Planetarium often hosts educational shows for schools and youth groups. Only a few other schools in the country offer a similar minor.
The Planetarium’s next show, “Astrology vs. Astronomy”, will be on Monday, Nov. 25 at 5:30 pm. Shows are free to everyone. Seating is very limited so those wishing to attend should get tickets to reserve their seat by calling the Planetarium at (860) 465-5300. More information can be found at http://www1.easternct.edu/physicalscience/planetarium/.