On Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m., Tri-Beta held a planetarium night for anyone to come and enjoy. The featured film for the night was “The Wild Ocean”, a documentary of how life on the East coast of Africa interacts with the ocean.
Jerry Wilkerson, the planetarium director and former mathematics professor, welcomed the viewers and briefly introduced the planetarium and its history on campus.
“The planetarium was put in the original science building and we did the first show in the fall of 1969,” said Wilkerson, “we’ve had two different projection systems installed… so we’re on our third projection system now.”
While astronomy is the only class on campus that uses the planetarium, many individuals and groups from the community can still enjoy what it has to offer.
“We have a lot of elementary school classes come in here for shows… (and) junior high students,” said Wilkerson, “we have about 20 different shows that we can do.”
“The Wild Ocean” is one of many captivating shows put on at the planetarium.This specific show draws its audience to aquatic life. Dr. Ashley Elias, an assistant professor and researcher on campus, understands the importance of “The Wild Ocean” and how it can draw students and adults to learn more about aquatic life.
“I think that this (planetarium night) is an easy, approachable way… to get people to think about science and ask questions,” said Elias, “they could be exposed to it in a fun and approachable way… I think having movies or showings is always helpful.”
The planetarium is not only good for educational programs but also as a way to bring in people from outside the school.
“I always see the ads for different showings… I think it’s nice that they do a wide range of types of films that could appeal to lots of people,” said Elias.
Macioa Firsching is the current president of Tri-Beta, a chapter of the national biological honor society here on campus. Their main goal is to promote undergraduate research through scholarships, conferences and engaging events.
“We’re kinda like the biology club… we are an honor society but we also do fun stuff like the planetarium event,” said Firsching.
Putting on events throughout the year is important to Tri-Beta and so is having fun along the way.
“About half of them (events) are just fun, the other half are educational,” said Firsching, “last semester we had a lot of speakers come in from other schools. This semester, we’re doing a graduate school panel… It's like a Q and A discussion.”
With all the planning that went into “The Wild Ocean”, showing the program in the planetarium only added to the experience.
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