Planetarium Show

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Planetarium Show | Racheal Downey

Thursday night’s Planetarium show at Radford University’s Center for the Sciences revolved around stars, and the role they play is the vastness of space. Joshua Carroll, a senior majoring in Physics, wrote and narrated the show. Carroll’s wit and enthusiasm for the topic guided his audience through an informative presentation on this broad topic. The visual portion of the show featured both computers renders of space and images taken by various telescopes. And not only is the audience given a chance to view some astronomical beauties, but they are also given the opportunity to learn about what they are seeing. Beyond that, the audience is able to understand what they are hearing. Carroll does not introduce a single scientific term without explaining it in layman’s terms immediately after.

Carroll starts the show by discussing one of the most familiar stars: our sun. He explained that stars and universes are linked, but scientists have not yet determined how. He walks the audience through a visual, computer simulated formation of a star. The explanation of star formation is even broken down to what the necessary atoms and elements necessary to form a star are. Additionally, the audience is walked through the importance of gas clouds and cold temperatures in star formation. By the end of all these explanations, it’s hard to not feel like a budding physicist yourself, but if you want the full experience, then you’ll have to attend the show for yourself.

At the end of the show, attempted to summarize everything he had just explained with a sound clip from a professional. That night’s chosen professional was renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the audio clip was taken from a feature titled “The Most Astounding Fact.” In it, Dr. Tyson expounds upon the universe itself, the role of humanity in the vast cosmos, and how “The universe is in us.” This ending point is, perhaps, the most poetic fact that science has to offer us. After the show officially ends, Carroll gives the audience a chance to participate in a short Q & A session in which he facilitates discussion.

The Planetarium at Radford University’s Center for the Sciences hosts shows like the one I attended every Thursday at 7 p.m. The overhead graphics do move, and sometimes the experience can be a little dizzying, so if you are considering attending but are prone to motion sickness, be cautious in your judgment to attend. If you can attend, I would highly recommend that you do so. The show is not only informative, but also humbling. “If I took a carbon atom in your hand and traced it back far enough, I would find myself in the heart of a dying star,” Carroll explained during the show. “When you look at everything you are and everything around you, you are stardust.” After the show ends, it’s nearly impossible to look at the stars overlooking Radford the same way. They shine a little brighter, and you seem to understand them a little more after learning that you both share the same atoms.

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