Friday night. Generally in a college town it is considered a party night. However, Friday nights can now be educational as well. The George Stahl Planetarium is providing the public an opportunity to tour the stars in our galaxy.
Last Friday night in a small classroom with a 23 foot rounded ceiling, a troop of Boy Scouts, a few brave college students, and I experienced the Planetarium first hand. The lesson started right away.
Our tour guide Megan asked us why the ceiling was so high and round. We couldn’t come up with an answer so she told us “basically so it looks better” when we view the stars.
We saw slides of the nine planets and got to learn a few things about each one. For example, the temperature on Venus reaches 864 degrees on the surface and has no water. And, the last probe sent by NASA only made it through three atmospheres before it was “frizzled” by the pressure.
Aside from the planets, we also had stars whirling about above our heads. Do you know what’s contained inside the Milky Way? Many of the Boy Scouts shouted out answers like “milk, nugget, and caramel.” It’s sad to say, but those ingredients are contained in a candy bar and not the real Milky Way
We saw constellations matching our horoscopes. Cancer proved to be the one of many interesting signs. Cancer is a crab with eight legs. But when you look at the constellation, you see only four stars that are supposed to mimic all the legs. What can we say; the Greeks had a great imagination.
The usual constellations like the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and Orion’s Belt were pointed out to us. However, we did learn a few new things as well.
Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice) is a red star located in Orion’s shoulder. No, it’s not named after the movie starring Micheal Keaton. It’s the actual name of the star in Arabic. Here’s the funny thing, it means armpit of the giant.
If you really want funny, you have to look at the constellation called Bozo. “He has two big eyes, a nose, and a happy mouth,” said Megan. She told us they came up with this constellation so they could use it to find three other constellations.
After we exhausted our search of constellations, we ambled out of the small room a little wiser. We may not be astronomers, but after this short lesson, we can find a few stars in the night sky.