‘Afternoon With The Stars’ Provides ‘Edutainment’


A CELESTIAL SHOW: Jennifer Krestow, astronomy department head and planetarium director, hosts Afternoon with the Stars every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in CS 257.

Monica Terada, Staff Writer

Going up the elevator tower to the parking structure, two young women spied the mosaic tiled structure protruding from GCC’s campus grounds.

“That’s a really pretty tiled dome,” one woman said. “I wonder what it is.”

“Oh, that? It’s just storage, like for boxes and stuff,” the other replied.

Luckily for them, Jennifer Krestow, the astronomy instructor and planetarium educational coordinator, was standing right next to them.

“Well, actually ,” said Krestow.

The instructor told them that “the really pretty tiled dome” is home to the school’s planetarium. It stores a universe of radiant stars, which can be seen with a weekly program called, “Afternoon with the Stars,” as well as serves as a high-tech classroom for intent gazers of all ages, one of which happens to be 11 years old.

“I’m taking a class called ‘Stars and Galaxies,’” said Warren , who also goes by “Wa-wa.” [Editor’s note: Warren’s mother requested not to print his last name]

“I think this is my third week and I’ve been here for every single class,” Warren said.

Warren is a student at the Foothill Progressive Montessori School and he has been fascinated by astronomy for as far back as he can remember.

“I’ve loved the moon ever since I was 2, and I like learning about black holes,” he said.

Warren is at the right place to learn about all things celestial.

The custom built 30-foot diameter dome is hooked up to software that allows for “live” viewings of the universe.

“You can see how clouds move and if there’s a typhoon in the Pacific or a hurricane in the Atlantic you can see that in real time,” said Krestow.

Krestow, who has been teaching at GCC for nearly seven years, is a native of Canada. She finished her schooling in Toronto before moving to the U.S. Her educational background includes an undergrad in astronomy and a doctorate in physics. Though she takes her field of study seriously, she finds the humor in it as well.

“There’s something about astronomy that really triggers nerdiness,” Krestow said. “My eyes are so used to going from light to dark that the muscles are awesome. It’s the only part of my body that’s toned.”

Krestow’s students aren’t the only ones who can laugh at her jokes and learn from her lectures. She gives 30-minute presentations on different subjects of the universe every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in the planetarium in CS 257.

“The initial series of public shows was called ‘Evening with the Stars’,” she said. “The general public could come and enjoy. But the general public didn’t know we existed.”

Perhaps the two women who thought the dome was merely a storage room could stop by the planetarium for a relaxing flight past the Earth’s atmosphere and into outer space.