‘The joy of astronomy’

On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will cross the state of Wyoming. From space, a solar eclipse is the shadow of the moon crossing over the Earth. In the above image, the moon’s shadow (darkened for effect) can be seen crossing Wyoming. To see the eclipse totality, viewers will want to stand in this shadow of the moon. Image courtesy of UW Planetarium

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In anticipation of the total solar eclipse passing across the continental U.S. in August, the University of Wyoming Planetarium is hosting an educational show tonight to explore the rare astronomical event.

The show will cover the Sun-Earth-Moon system, look into what makes solar eclipses special, as well as what astronomers hope to learn from this eclipse in particular, and discuss safe ways to view the solar event Aug. 21.

The planetarium hosts shows a couple times a week, with different shows covering a wide variety of astronomical topics, said Chip Kobulnicky, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“We have a team of six or eight show presenters and most of them make up their own shows, so unlike big city planetariums, we don’t buy canned shows from New York City or Chicago planetariums,” Kobulnicky said.

“We put together our own presentations, and that gives our — mostly student — presenters an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills and learn to communicate science with the public.”

The planetarium schedule provides opportunities for astronomy students to prepare, program and present original shows, in addition to honing their technical skills, Kobulnicky said.

The event is open and accessible for all ages, from kindergartners to octogenarians.

“That’s really our mission as a department — to teach college students and lifelong students and communicate the joy of science and the joy of astronomy to the general public,” Kobulnicky said. “So, we think that’s what our planetarium does the best.”

He added the planetarium draws thousands of visitors a year.

The show begins at 8 p.m. today in the UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium, which can be entered via the Physical Science Building. Tickets are $3 for students and $4 for adults or other members of the public. Call 766-6506 for more information.

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