Getting people excited about astronomy

Posted by Liz Kruesi
on Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last week, I attended a “double feature” at the Milwaukee Public Museum’s IMAX theater. The main movie was Tornado Alley (in addition to astronomy, I find weather fascinating), but the opening film was a planetarium show called Earth, Moon, and Sun. The film discussed concepts about these familiar objects, but in a creative and funny way. After viewing the movie, planetarium guests left with an understanding of solar and lunar eclipses, in addition to how the Moon and Earth move through space.

“Earth, Moon and Sun” is a planetarium show that explores the relationship between these celestial bodies and distinguishes myths from science through traditional Native American folklore. // Photo by NASA/JPL/USGS
Because my education and career both revolve around the science of astronomy, I was pretty familiar with the concepts in the show. But what I found really interesting — and awesome — were some of the comments that those around me made after the film ended. A family in front of me spoke about how neat the show was and how cool astronomy is (and how they wish they knew more). They grabbed a few sky charts from the planetarium operator before leaving the theater. I hope they had a chance to explore the sky above them in the days that followed.

This event reaffirmed to me how great planetarium shows are for getting the public interested in astronomy. Imagine following the film with stargazing and telescope viewing, too; this would be a great way to engage the public. How many of you already participate in events like this or found your own inspiration at a planetarium show? Do you wish there were more of these events in your area? Share your comments below!

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