ASTRONOMY CLUB PLANETARIUM SHOW — My gosh, it’s full of stars.
By Bryan Stranahan, Contributor to the Star
The Valley College Astronomy Group kicked off the fall 2015 season with a completely sold-out planetarium show, “The Fall Sky.”
A line of people completely filled the foyer and swept out the door of The Planetarium. By 7:45pm, Astronomy Club volunteers had to turn away some individuals since the planetarium was at capacity (this writer was a volunteer at the presentation). Professor David Falk began the show promptly at 8pm, describing current events in astronomy.
On Sept. 27 there will be a rare total lunar eclipse that begins just after 7pm and which will end just before 10pm. “You can see the beginning, go get a cup of coffee, come back, and it will still be happening,” said Falk.
The New Horizons Pluto Flyby on July 14 was also discussed. NASA has selected a small cold object in the Kuiper Belt as the space probe’s next destination. Falk asked the crowd, “How many people think that Polaris, the North Star, is the brightest star in the sky?” The individuals who raised their hands were surprised to learn that our north star is the 50th brightest star in the night sky.
Falk then went on to give a tour of the other fall constellations, including Perseus, Cassiopeia, and Cepheus. The mythologies behind these constellations was the main topic. A humorous video explained how some of the fall constellations got their names. Cepheus, who was the king of Ethiopia, was married to the gorgeous Cassiopeia. Together they had a daughter named Andromeda. Perseus, the hero, beheaded the snake-haired Medusa to save the princess Andromeda from a sea monster. A few drops of Medusa’s blood fell into the sea, mixed with the foam, and gave birth to Pegasus, the flying horse, who later played a part in the story of another hero. Perseus is located near Andromeda and her parents, Cepheus and Cassiopeia, in the northern fall sky.
At the end of the show, the audience checked their tickets as Falk announced the winning number for the astronomy poster raffle. The crowd applauded as the winner claimed her poster. Among the last to leave were a mother and daughter who approached Falk and thanked him. Smiles were seen on their faces as they walked out of the planetarium.