Planetarium opens with ‘Introduction to the Night Sky’

Julianna Frantz

The night sky is beautiful and may be seen this week without venturing outdoors.

“Introduction to the Night Sky” is being presented by the Department of Physics at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow at the planetarium to give people a better idea of what is in the infinite cosmos. The planetarium is located on the first floor of Smith Hall.

This is the first in the series of public shows for this academic year, and there is no charge for admission, said planetarium director and associate physics professor Brett Ellman.

He also said that seating is limited and usually fills up quickly. People wanting to reserve seating can call (330) 672-2246. It is also recommended that individuals needing accommodations for participation in this event should contact the physics department at the above telephone number.

The show is approximately an hour long and is not recommended for children under the age of 6, Ellman said.

“In this presentation we showcase the skies as they are above us right now,” Ellman said. “I will show constellations like Andromeda, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia and a couple others.”

According to the university planetarium’s Web site, the show also will take participants on a tour of the universe, highlighting some of the recent missions conducted by NASA.

“As far as missions go, there are great new things from the cometary Deep Impact mission, the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Martian rovers,” Ellman wrote in an e-mail.

Most recent is the Deep Impact mission, in which NASA impacted comet Tempel 1 on the morning of July 4, in an effort to discover the origins of life in our solar system, according to NASA’s Deep Impact Web site.

Fiberglass bucket-type seats tilt back for overhead viewing in the planetarium, while the entire sky can be revolved to make viewing all parts of the sky easier. Teaching aids projected on the sky include various coordinates, the meridian and ecliptic, according to the planetarium Web site.

The planetarium normally presents more than 100 shows per year to more than 10,000 people, Ellman said. Shows can be arranged for youth, education and civic groups of 25 or more people.

The planetarium is maintained by the Department of Physics for use in astronomy courses, as well as for the presentation of shows to groups outside the department.

For more information, contact Brett Ellman, planetarium director and associate physics professor, at (330) 672-9575 or visit the Web site at

Contact sciences reporter Julianna Frantz at [email protected].