Physics Department hosts ‘Winter Sky and Hubble Vision’

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The Physics department hosted a planetarium series program in the Farrington Building room 102 on Monday, March 17. The presentation was put on by Michael Prokosch, staff aide for the physics department, and lasted approximately an hour.

In the past, the presentations have been a once-a-month event. Because of interest, especially with middle and elementary school teachers, there have been experiments with the increase of shows to twice a month.

“Up until this past semester, we’ve done this once a month. We’re expanding this program,” Prokosch said. “We’ve had multiple high school teachers bring their classes here.”

The presentations are one effort to use the planetarium more, as well as let people know it exists and is available, according to Prokosch.

“It’s just a way to get public outreach. It’s amazing how many people don’t know it’s here or know that there’s something like that here,” Prokosch said.

“What the planetarium helps us to do is a kind of day like today — we don’t have to worry about clouds here. I can show you the exact same thing you’ll see at night- I can show you pretty much anything I want to.”

Prokosch picks topics for the presentation based on current events in astronomy. Lately, he’s covered the lunar eclipse from February, as well as the recent explosion of Comet Holmes in January.

“It went from invisible, nobody-really-cared-about fuzzy thing that didn’t get close to the sun, and it was, “Oh my god, where did that come from?”

Currently, the exploded comet is larger in volume than our own sun.

Prokosch covered the Hubble telescope and it’s implications as a major portion of the presentation, as well as perspective on its impact since its beginnings.

“The Hubble telescope has spoiled us,” Prokosch said. “Hubble has spoiled us with all these beautiful color images. It was launched in 1990 — there are freshmen who were not around to remember before Hubble.”

Part of the presentation experience is the informal atmosphere and ad-libbing in between sets.

“I add a little more to it. I take it and personalize it,” Prokosch said. “I try to share some of my experiences in astronomy and that helps put it into perspective for the young kids.”