“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are!”
Everyone gains a better understanding about those little stars in the sky after watching the night sky from the comfort of a cozy seat at Anderson Hancock Planetarium on the campus of Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. As the present night sky appears overhead, the movement and stories of the constellations provide a fascinating time of entertainment and increased knowledge of our expanding Universe.
Named after Emeritus Professors Dr. Les Anderson ’55 and Dr. Whit Hancock, the planetarium is equipped with a hybrid projection system that combines an optical mechanical star projector with a powerful full dome digital video projector.
Marietta College is currently one of a handful of planetariums in the country to feature the Goto Chronos hybrid system, which can replicate with great accuracy the night sky from thousands of years in the past to thousands of years in the future from countless vantage points in the Universe. This projects the night sky onto the dome, which is about 40′ in diameter.
Every month, the planetarium hosts a special sky program with two showings on a Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. Recent topics have explored “Cosmic Castaways”, “Chasing Ghost Particles” and most recently the premiere of “Space Aliens: Looking for Life in the Universe”.
During a visit to see “Space Aliens”, experts Hopeful and Skeptical took those in attendance on a journey from the ocean floor to an adventure across the galaxy as they tried to convince each other whether life exists outside of earth. No definite conclusion was reached except that we keep discovering more and more about our vast Universe all the time.
The planetarium director, Dr. Ann Bragg, has been with the program since it opened in the spring of 2009. Since her goal is to educate the community as well as the students, she projects a contagious enthusiasm, which hooks the viewers.
Dr. Bragg, also associate professor of physics, enjoys teaching and opening students’ minds to new possibilities. She feels, “The process of discovery is often more interesting than what is actually discovered.”
Star talks about the current evening sky always precede the special program. Here they tell about and display the different constellations that are visible in the sky. This provides a tremendous opportunity for adults and children to learn more about our vast Universe. During the year, nearly 4000 students visit the planetarium with school, scout and camp groups.
The lobby also features quiet study areas and current science programming from NASA’s ViewSpace data/video feed. It’s a great place to catch up on some of the latest NASA developments.
During the summer months at least two of their showings will be geared toward students. While all shows are free, the planetarium requires reservations as seating is limited in their 102 seat auditorium. Perhaps you would like to visit the Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College and witness several of their outstanding presentations in the future.
Sometimes your road trip needs to leave earth and explore what is beyond.
Be sure to check out their website at http://www.mariette.edu/planetarium for future programs. To visit Anderson Hancock Planetarium, take Interstate 77 toward Marietta to Exit 1. At Exit 1, turn right onto ramp, which will be Ohio 7 (Pike Street). Remain on Pike Street until turning right onto Fourth Street. Take the first right onto Butler Street. Parking will be immediately on your right in the lot adjacent to Hermann Fine Arts Center.