The heart of Seeing Stars is a standard model Starlab Portable Planetarium. An opaque inflatable dome with an entrance tunnel, 18 by 21 feet across and 11 feet high, can seat about 35 (which is a bit of a squeeze). In the center of the dome, a projector — with interchangeable cylindrical charts — projects a rotating image onto the inner surface of the dome. It can display more than a thousand stars and the Moon, for any time of any day of the year. It can also show the appearance of the sky from anywhere between the equator and the North Pole. Another cylinder displays constellation outlines. A 35mm slide projector is also used to project space images — some direct from NASA — of the Earth, Moon, planets, the Milky Way, and various deep-space objects.
Astronomy clubs and observatories often have night-time get-togethers at which they share views through their telescopes with the public. They call these “star parties”. Seeing Stars offers traveling star parties. Several telescopes and pairs of binoculars will be available for exploring the stars. The Director will share both his knowledge of the night sky as well as information about astronomy equipment appropriate for beginners.
Paul Kinzer, the Starlab Director, is also the author of the book, Stargazing Basics, and will use it to give an indoor introduction to the night sky and the equipment used to see it. This program is designed for older children and adults.
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