Student contributes program to Planetarium

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The usual Planetarium programs are getting a jolt with the addition of a show written by a student.

Senior Kevin Bartig, a physics major, is writing the program as part of a directed study and getting credit for it.

Bartig’s program, “Wonders of Deep Space: A Portrait of the Distant Universe,” looks at what is outside the solar system, Planetarium director George Stecher said. The program is still in the planning process.

Stecher is supervising Bartig’s work. Bartig said he has been working at the planetarium for a couple of years and wanted to write a program about things he was interested in and others would find interesting.

Having programs written outside the university is very expensive, Bartig said, adding it is practical to have workers or students write the programs.

Every year the Planetarium tries new shows and the last couple of years the shows missed the key aspects of astronomy, Bartig said.

Bartig said “Wonders of Deep Space” will be an overview of things in deep space. Including the lives of stars, galaxies and other things beyond the solar system.

The program will be presented March 15 and 29, April 5 and 26 and May 3.

The 7:30 p.m. Thursday programs are open to the public, including students.

“Our goal is to bring astronomy to people,” Stecher said, adding that people don’t need to understand astronomy at all to attend these programs.

“Stargazing the Spring Sky” is designed for people who are more interested in what is in the sky. Stecher said it will include some mythology, science and stargazing.

“Stargazing” will be presented March 1 and 8.

One program that has run through the university before is “Mr. Genius Tours the Solar System.” It is a very introductory program to the solar system, Stecher said, aimed at children through adults.

“Mr. Genius” will be presented Feb. 8, 15 and 22 and April 19.

All the programs last 45 minutes to an hour, Bartig said. They all have a 10-minute introduction, a 25- to 30-minute show and 10 to 15 minutes set aside for questions, he said.

Stecher said presentations for groups or organizations are available on dates other than those scheduled for the public. These have to be arranged by contacting Stecher.

This is Stecher’s last semester as the director of the Planetarium, but he said some programs will continue to be presented.

The cost is $1 “regardless of who you are,” Stecher said. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Stecher said sometimes the shows fill up and people often show up expecting to see a program and can’t get in.

Stecher and one or two students conduct the programs, depending on their schedules.