Planetarium showing teaches life of stars


Photo by: Lauren Owens

The Physics and Astronomy Department educates students about stars during a presentation at the Dooley Planetarium.

Ashley Krause, Copy Editor

The FMU Dooley Planetarium hosted the “Secret Lives of the Stars” presentation for students and civilians interested in stars, planets and constellations, such as Saturn and Ursa Major.

Dr. Ginger Bryngelson, assistant professor of physics, led the presentation.

The event began with Bryngelson providing a demonstration to show attendees how to find multiple constellations in the night sky. Bryngelson said that, although many people do not think about stars during the day since the brightness of the sun overshadows them, the stars are always right above us.

After this introduction, Bryngelson spoke about several constellations that have been studied by astronomers and scientists for many years. Bryngelson discussed the usefulness and practicality of various constellations.

One such constellation, the Little Dipper, contains the North Star, Polaris, which can be a useful tool for determining cardinal directions.

To find the North Star, Bryngelson said that a person should look for the Little Dipper, a constellation shaped like a bowl with a handle. She told the audience to then locate the two outermost stars of the bowl and draw an imaginary line to the brightest star.

“The North Star never moves,” Bryngelson said. “The other constellations move around it.”

The attendees participated by answering questions about constellations throughout the presentation.

According to several attendees, the event was a success and was enjoyable for viewers.

Austin Cherry, senior Spanish major, said the event allowed him to reflect on the size of Earth compared to the size of outer space.

“This presentation puts our everyday lives on Earth into perspective for me,” Cherry said.

Cherry was one of the many attendees who brought a family member to the event. He said he wanted to experience new things with his grandfather.

“I brought my granddad with me because he had never seen a planetarium show before,” Cherry said. “He enjoyed it immensely.”

After the first part of the presentation, the audience watched a video projected onto the dome of the planetarium. The video depicted the in-depth processes of how stars are formed and eventually die out.

Bryngelson said Dooley Planetarium has the equipment needed to create its own programs for the community.

“The Secret Lives of Stars’ was a program developed by someone else,” Bryngelson said. “However, we can develop and present our own programs, too.”

Bryngelson told the audience that the planetarium has advanced technology that can produce many different types of presentations. The equipment used to create this show is user-friendly but able is to portray galaxies in complex ways.

“It has its own model, and you can basically send the camera through and see our galaxy and different galaxies,” Bryngelson said.

According to Bryngelson, the technology used in this presentation showcased only a fraction of the program’s capabilities.

“We have just scratched the surface of what we can do,” Bryngelson said. “We have programs that are not just astronomical.”

According to Bryngelson, the reason that FMU hosts these showings is to inform FMU students and community members about astronomy.

The planetarium events are open to the public and FMU students.

The planetarium has several shows on varying topics throughout the semester.