Spanish major Day Spencer went to a show at the Donald E. Bianchi Planetarium in February to earn extra credit for an astronomy class. She enjoyed it so much that she returned for the March show, Magellan: Report from Venus.
The planetarium at California State University, Northridge has offered shows and presentations every semester since 2004. Every other Friday — and occasional Thursday nights — the planetarium opens its doors to the CSUN and surrounding communities for a night sky show and presentation on varying astronomy topics.
“Anyone can come. Students, not only from CSUN, but also from other schools and the general public can come,” said Jan Dobias, CSUN astronomy professor and organizer of the planetarium shows. “This is their opportunity to learn about astronomy and what goes on in the sky.”
The night sky shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and involve a narrated simulation of the current nighttime sky with its constellations of stars and planets — and occasionally eclipses if applicable. The consecutive shows continue at 8:30 p.m. and are either pre-recorded presentations on astronomy topics of interest, or guest speakers who present on current astronomical events.
“[The shows] are so interesting because they give you a new perspective of orientation — not only your own, but generally on the galaxy and the universe,” Spencer said.
Last week’s show, Magellan: Report from Venus, was a narrated slide program that assessed the Magellan mission to Earth’s sister planet Venus.
Just like Spencer, many astronomy students earn extra credit by attending the shows. Others enjoy the presentations on their own. Psychology major Yonina Sabel and geographical information science major Luis Garcia said they are fascinated by constellations and galaxies, which inspired them to attend the shows.
“It’s spectacular to see the perspective of all the stars and planets,” said Garcia.
“We usually don’t get to see the constellation this close,” Sabel added. “I definitely recommend anyone to come and see the shows — they are really great.”
Tickets for planetarium shows can be purchased at the AS Ticket Office or at the door. Tickets are $6 for one show and $10 for both shows. CSUN students receive a discount with a valid CSUN student ID: $4 for one show and $7 for both shows.
For information about showtimes and dates, visit http://www.csun.edu/science-mathematics/physics-astronomy/planetarium.