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Wickware Planetarium Presents Last Star Show for Fall Semester

Published on December 11, 2015

Wickware Planetarium Presents Last Star Show for Fall Semester

The Wickware Planetarium at Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its final show for the fall semester on Dec. 7. All planetarium shows are free of charge and open to the public. “Art and Astronomy” was designed to educate the audience on how artists, such as Hemingway and van Gogh, were inspired and instructed by the sky.

“Our last event was the most successful yet, we gave away all the tickets more than a month ago and had to turn interested people away,” said Russell Sampson, professor of astronomy and assistant planetarium director. “Many people stayed after the show to ask questions. The last person didn’t leave until around 8 p.m., an hour after the end of the show.”
Sampson used Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea” to show his audience a connection between art and astronomy. Hemingway used the star “Rigel” and the constellation “Orion” to connect the sky with his story. Orion is a mighty hunter in mythology and so was the hero of Hemingway’s novel.

Sampson also used The Big Dipper in van Gogh’s painting the “Starry Night over the Rhone” to connect electric lighting to the stellar wonders in the heavens. “A lot of artists find inspiration through the outside and sky, that’s where you see the collision of galaxies,” said Sophomore Tyrent Mitchell. “I’ve spent a ton of time over the summer looking at the sky and watching the constellations move, which is fascinating.”

The Spitz System 512 star projector launched the stars and constellations onto the dome for the audience to see how artists use astronomy in their artwork. The purpose of the planetarium at Eastern is to educate individuals on the Milky Way galaxy. Eastern holds classes in the planetarium for students who show an interest in astronomy, chemistry, physics and physical science.

The planetarium has an important agenda for next semester. In 2016 there is a rare celestial event on May 9, “Transit of Mercury,” where the planet of Mercury passes in front of the sun. “I am really looking forward to next semester’s shows. I hope to talk about the ‘Transit of Mercury,’” said Sampson. “If it is clear that day, I hope to have a solar-telescope set up on campus for people to see the event.”

The fall semester at the planetarium educated many individuals and was deemed successful in its goals. “The audience is always so fun, intelligent and curious, especially the children,” said Sampson. “It’s a great way to connect with the community since a lot of our audience are not students, staff or faculty of the school.”

Written by Christina Rossomando

Categories: Physical Sciences