Distant Galaxies Come to Life for Planetarium Audiences

Isiah Reyes

The entire galaxy was on display inside the Glendale College Planetarium when it hosted two showings of the public event “Evening with the Stars” on Sept. 19.

The event, which is hosted by GCC astronomy teacher Jennifer Krestow, is located inside the dome theater found on the second floor of the Cimmarusti Science Center. It focuses on utilizing its 30-foot diameter ceiling screen to help educate its patrons about the stars that are visible from Glendale.

At the beginning of the show, the power seats tilt back making the ceiling the focal viewpoint. Then the audience views a
3-D simulation of the stars and constellations as seen from the Planetarium’s point of view, with the clouds turned off for extra clarity.

Soon after, the simulation zooms out and leaves planet Earth, to venture around in the solar system in an imaginary spaceship. The solar system is viewed along with labels and pointers, making it easier to identify planets and stars. Other devices are used to help illustrate certain space facts, such as the illuminated trajectories of planets, 30,000 orange dots representing satellites, and colored lines that connect all the dots of the constellations.

The imaginary spaceship gets up close and personal with planet Jupiter, showcasing its famous big red spot and its renowned moons. Afterwards, the solar system shrinks in size as the spaceship zooms out even further to show the outside of the Oort Cloud, which is about one light year away from the Sun.

The simulation goes so far from our solar system that the whole Milky Way galaxy is visible in its entirety. After getting familiar with our own galaxy, the simulation continues to zoom out even further to the point where thousands of galaxies appear as tiny green dots, all bunched up in a mass of intergalactic information.

As Krestow coordinated the presentation, she responded to all questions that the audience had as the show was in progress. After the show was over, Krestow was happy to answer any questions that the viewers had in detail; such as information on upcoming shows, clarification on certain terms, and an explanation on what would happen if a hypothetical asteroid was destined to obliterate planet Earth (we’ll survive, by the way).

The show is designed to be informative and to educate its viewers. Its presentation is similar to something that might be showed on the Discovery channel.

Admission for the show was $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under, but unfortunately, there weren’t any special deals for GCC students.

The Glendale College Planetarium also schedules shows for local grade schools, youth groups and special interests groups among other patrons. Private shows can also be arranged with the Planetarium.

For more information on future shows, or to get in touch with the Glendale College Planetarium, contact Paul Buehler, Planetarium and Dome administrator, at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5275.