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Spring Skies over Eastern at the Wickware Planetarium

Published on February 24, 2015

Spring Skies over Eastern at the Wickware Planetarium

Did you know the sun in our solar system has long-lost siblings? That’s one thing that the audiences at Eastern Connecticut State University’s Robert K. Wickware Planetarium learned during the “Spring Skies” show on Feb. 23. According to Astronomy Professor Russell Sampson, all stars are born into clusters that spread out as they age. One of the most prominent constellations in the sky during this time of year is Taurus, which includes the Pleiades star cluster. The Pleiades are very young compared to our sun, which has become so distanced from its siblings, and so mixed into the cosmos, that astronomers still can’t find them, despite years of looking.

In spite of the cold temperatures and mounds of snow on the ground, we are now closer to the Spring Equinox on March 20 than the Winter Solstice. Different constellations and star groups are visible at different times of year. Orion and Taurus are two that are visible right now, as Professor Sampson demonstrated, by showing Willimantic’s night sky with full visibility and no light pollution.

Also discussed was the important Rosetta Mission by the European Space Agency (ESA), which put a lander, Philae, on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenkocomet, in November 2014. This was a groundbreaking and unprecedented accomplishment in the history of space exploration that hopefully will be able to tell us more about the history of our solar system.

Sky watchers from Eastern’s student body and staff, as well as members of the public, enjoyed the first of three entertaining and educational star shows the Planetarium will host this semester. The audience at star shows usually consists of the public and Eastern faculty and staff, but more and more students are attending. The next show will be all about everyone’s favorite non-planet, Pluto, and will take place on Monday, March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Robert K. Wickware Planetarium, Eastern’s teaching and presentation planetarium. 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

Written by Kelsey Tuller

Categories: Physical Sciences