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Things are looking up


By Mark St. J. Couhig
Forks Forum Editor

The Olympic Natural Resources Center has invited one and all to what it calls “an interactive, engaging program on astronomy.”

 

University of Washington undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Astronomy will lead science-based experiences to discover more about the skies above. To lend a hand, they’re bringing their mobile planetarium to Forks to provide a close-up view of the night sky.

 

Two programs will be held on Saturday, May 4. A family focused program will be held 1-3 p.m., with a later program for adults from 7-9 p.m.

 

The ONRC is at 1455 S. Forks Ave.

 

The planetarium shows are about 20 minutes long so groups of people can cycle through the performances or come back in for a repeat viewing! In addition to the planetarium show, each program will provide several stations with hands-on activities. The afternoon session will include kid-focused presentations and activities, while the evening session will include more in-depth presentations.

 

The presenters are UW students who volunteer their time to do these programs.

 

“People really like (the mobile planetarium); they’ve got great questions,” said Phil Rosenfield, the principal investigator of this project. “You get some gasps because people have never really seen the night sky like that before,” Rosenfield said.

 

The planetarium’s dome, created by the company Go-Dome, is an inflatable room resembling an igloo. At approximately 10 feet high and 20 feet across, the dome can fit about two dozen viewers. It is a fully functional planetarium that offers many of the same images as the high-tech planetarium located on university campus. The planetarium runs Microsoft Research’s World Wide Telescope software on a laptop computer. A large hemispherical mirror projects the high density image from the back of the dome across three-quarters of its interior.

 

The planetarium brings modern astronomy down from space and into the schools and community, providing viewers an immersive experience of the Universe.

 

For more information, contact Ellen Matheny, Director of Education & Outreach at the Olympic Natural Resources Center, 374-4556, or ematheny@uw.edu.

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