These were some of the many tidbits of knowledge our participants took away from “Astronomical Appeal: The Splendors of the Spring Sky at Night,” a Glenmeadow Learning program offered in partnership with the Springfield Museums Planetarium on May 20.
Led by three employees of the museum—Dave Gallup, Richard Sanderson and Jack Megas—the 90-minute presentation offered a primer on the constellations, a history of the museum’s Seymour Planetarium—the oldest planetarium in the country—and a close-up view of million-year-old meteorites.
In the planetarium, to start the program, Dave showed the sky as we see it here in the Pioneer Valley. “There is light pollution galore,” he said, noting how the sky isn’t nearly as dark or black as it appears in western parts of the country. There, he said, the night sky is “a primitive, ancient thing.”
To give us a taste of a sky so dark, Dave simulated the night sky from the 50s or 60s, and the room instantly blackened, revealing hundreds more stars and planets.
Dave showed us the Big and Little Dippers, Polaris and Leo the Lion, which is visible in the spring sky. “When you see dandelions in your yard, you know the lion in the sky will be there,” he said.
Taking the mic mid-program, Richard said he has worked at the museum since he was 15 years old, and he well remembers Frank Korkosz, who designed and installed the planetarium’s star ball, which can project more than 7,000 stars.
Richard said the planetarium was in development from 1934 to 1937 and holds 41 projectors that simulate a broad range of night sky conditions and constellations. He said Seymour is now the oldest planetarium in the country.
Just outside the planetarium, to close the program, Jack Megas showed our participants the museum’s collection of meteorites and other materials from the sky. One item that Jack passed around was a million years old-—“older than the earth,” he said.
The next Glenmeadow Learning program will offer a discussion that examines the unique challenges Donald Trump has placed on the American system for electing a president. This presentation is the fifth and final program offering in the free Glenmeadow Learning education series and will be held on Tuesday, June 14 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Country Club of Wilbraham.
As part of “Presidential Challenge: An Historical View of the Primary System,” political scientist Donald L. Robinson will discuss how the primary system has evolved and assess the likelihood that political parties can regain control over the process. He will also discuss how the system is stacked against third parties and independents.