Planets and Stars Make for Spectacular Shows

2bBy Anthony Mulholland

College of Southern Nevada’s Cheyenne campus is home to one of two planetariums in the State. It requires a hefty investment to bring in shows and equipment but the students and community benefit from it.

“I enjoy letting people find out about our solar system and the universe and the kinds of things in astronomy and physics and science that we have learned over the last couple thousand years,” said Robert Pippin, program manager at The Planetarium.

Alula Geberslassie, who was on campus, was amazed that CSN has a planetarium. “I didn’t expect it. I thought it would be somewhere like UNLV.”

The other planetarium in the State is at University of Nevada, Reno.

According to Dr. Andrew Kerr, director of The Planetarium at CSN, telescopes cost between $3,000 and $15,000. Films that are shown in the dome theater cost between zero and $12,000, depending on if they are purchased, rented or provided at no cost. The projector that transmits the shows on the dome can cost more than a quarter-million dollars.

One of the reasons the school invested in The Planetarium was to provide opportunities for students and the public to become educated on astronomy in hopes of peaking their interests in the universe, Kerr said.

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Currently The Planetarium is showing: “Larry, Cat in Space,” which follows an orange tabby as he stows away on a space craft to the moon; “Ice Worlds,” which is a film about the existence of ice in the universe and how it shapes the landscape and natural systems on planets and moons; and “Black Holes,” which is about the nature of these vast voids that can devour entire stars. More details are found on The Planetarium’s website.

Shows change every two months, according to Kerr. Each film runs for eight weekends.

The film “Stargazing” is also part of the line-up and gives attendees preparation for the observatory.

Telescopes at the observatory are open for viewings after the 8 p.m. shows when the weather is clear. This brief stargazing opportunity provides a chance to learn about constellations and asterisms like the Big Dipper and Little Dipper.

“A lot of people when they are in The Planetarium shows, they are seeing an image,” Kerr said. “They are seeing a video. When they get outside and look through a telescope and realize that what they are seeing is actually that object, it is a very cool thing.”

Shows are open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays and cost $4 for CSN students with school ID and $6 for others.

Jordan Bachman, a CSN student, would recommend the shows. “I think it’s a good find. It’s cheap. It’s something to do and there’s not a lot of places in Vegas where you’re going to see this.”

For more information about The Planetarium please go to www.csn.edu/Planetarium.

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