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Celebrate Astronomy Day with free UMD Planetarium events

April 25 marks International Astronomy day -- a day encouraging people to gaze up at the stars. To mark the occasion and encourage folks to learn more about the cosmos, members of the Astronomy Club at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) are...

April 25 marks International Astronomy day - a day encouraging people to gaze up at the stars. To mark the occasion and encourage folks to learn more about the cosmos, members of the Astronomy Club at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) are coordinating a series of free events at UMD’s Marshall H. Alworth Planetarium.

Student Shane Loeffler is helping to organize the events and he feels Northland residents should definitely take advantage of this occasion.

“The planetarium is a hidden gem and we’re lucky to be in a part of the country where a short drive out of town brings you to some of the darkest skies in the nation,” said Loeffler. “That means you can take what you learn in the planetarium and apply it to the real night sky.”

On Friday, April 24, Physics Professor Marc Seigar will share a free planetarium presentation from NASA to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hubble telescope. It starts at 7 p.m. and will feature many spectacular images as well as the history and significance of the space telescope’s contributions to our understanding of the universe.

On Saturday, April 25, more activities are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most notably, a new full-dome planetarium show called “Sunstruck” will premiere with showings at 2 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. The 20-minute show takes viewers on a journey to discover the wonders of our sun and its potential effects on our technology and future. A full schedule of events is available at the planetarium’s website at www.umdstars.org .

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All of the day's events are free and open to the public. Other highlights include a presentation and opportunity to see real moon rocks up close from noon to 2 p.m., a variety of planetarium shows throughout the day, arts and crafts activities, interactive exhibits including an activity by the Duluth Children’s Museum, and the chance to safely observe the sun through solar telescopes.

“This is a great way to get kids excited about science and learning about the world around them,” said Loeffler. “Astronomy is big, it’s exciting, and it changes the way you look at the world.”

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