Delta College Planetarium takes audiences on tour of universe

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On Saturday, Jan. 20, the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center in downtown Bay City hosted a show titled “From Earth to the Universe.”

The show was produced and led by Brian Kennedy and was held inside the circular room with a 360-degree screen that offered stunning views of the night sky and the various stellar objects toured by the audience. The show will be held again on Saturday, Jan. 27, and will run every Thursday in February.

During the show, the floor itself and the seats in which attendees sit automatically move in order to better see the various constellations. Although there were about 50 people present in the same room on Saturday, the lighting and surrounding screen made attendees feel as if they were alone in their own universe.

The show began with an overview of the history of astronomy, from the Ancient Greeks who discovered and named many of the stars and constellations to the early astronomers who built the first telescopes and investigated the vastness of the universe.

Attendees were then given a 360-degree view of the night sky as it would appear that evening. They were shown major constellations like the Little and Big Dipper, Ursa Major, and the “North Star” Polaris. The hour-long show concluded with a realistic roller-coaster simulation that ended on a fly-by of the Great Wall of China.

Fourth-year sociology major Stephanie Wortman was one of the SVSU students who attended the show.

“(It was) very well done and engaging, although definitely more so children-oriented,” Wortman said.

Kennedy talked about the planetarium’s work with area colleges and universities.

“We are an offsite learning center for Delta College,” Kennedy said. “Mostly we have classrooms, but we also use the planetarium to do public shows and special events.”

Additionally, Kennedy noted the planetarium isn’t just for Delta College students.

“We run public shows every couple of nights every week,” Kennedy said. “We will teach school groups that come in such as elementary or middle school students. This show, ‘From Earth to the Universe,’ is a tour of the universe. We learn a little bit about a lot of different objects, we go through the planets and then some of the other things outside our solar system like nebulae and star clusters. This is definitely one of the more information-heavy shows that we have here. We generally recommend it for about later elementary and middle school and up.”

Although in terms of academics the planetarium is mainly used by Delta College astronomy students, SVSU astronomy courses also regularly use the classrooms. The planetarium is also open to the public and frequently hosts community events.

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