For the first time, the Peterson Planetarium in Cram Science Hall was open to the public last Friday between 4 and 6 p.m. After receiving numerous requests for shows and tours in the planetarium, the physical sciences department presented a series of 20-minute shows, which include the night sky in the winter and early spring, as well as some familiar constellations.
The planetarium is open mostly for students who take earth or space science classes, but private shows are available by special request.
“It is our first time to attend a show like this,” said Sharae Crouch, Emporia local who brought her two children. “The kids were born and raised in Emporia, but we’ve never been to the planetarium before.”
Alyssa Floro, junior secondary science education major and one of the presenters for the shows, said they wanted to open the planetarium to the public because they had many people who expressed interest in it.
“We just wanted to allow people to come in and take a look at it,” Floro said.
Another presenter – Keely Grossnickle, senior mathematics and economics major – and Floro came up with the idea of opening the planetarium to the public. As a space science teaching assistant equipped with working experience in the planetarium, Grossnickle said she was excited to point out stars and constellations to attendees.
“I really liked the planetarium when I took space science,” Grossnickle said. “That was the coolest thing in the world. It’s kind of interactive, too.”
She also said it was a great opportunity for ESU students, since it was not open to them before, unless they had a class like earth or space science. She said it was a good opportunity for student to see and get to know planetarium.
Around 80 people attended the showings, with a large percent of those being children and their parents.
Roy Briggeman, director of the intensive English program, said the planetarium is a facility that does not get as much usage as it should. His grandson, Collin Briggeman, said that his favorite part of the show was to see all the stars – his favorite was the Big Dipper and the planet Jupiter.
Grossnickle said that she liked having kids there because they asked lots of questions, and she was able to share her knowledge.
The Peterson Planetarium is also open to elementary schools within the Emporia area. Around three to five schools visit the planetarium each month. The physical science department plans on hosting more public shows in the near future.