Planetarium challenges perceptions

If you are interested in learning about the seven wonders of the ancient world you can, at the Haile Digital Planetarium, in the Science Center.

“Seven Wonders” will be showing for free, the first and third Fridays of the month, at 7:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 9. and every Monday, from noon to 1 p.m., beginning Sept. 12.

Throughout the week, astronomy classes are held in the planetarium. However, not all of the shows featured on Mondays and Fridays are related to astronomy.

“I purposely have tried to have shows that aren’t all about astronomy,” said Planetarium Director Dan Spence. “We try to cover a wide range, including geology, chemistry and biology.”

According to Spence, there is not a big turn-out for the Monday afternoon shows, which he thinks may be because of the perception that it is “just stars on a screen.” Spence hopes “Seven Wonders” will help change that perception.

Whatever perceptions people hold, it seems that many students are not aware of the free shows at the planetarium.

Melissa Danner, a junior middle-childhood education major, had not heard of the free Monday and Friday shows at the planetarium, but she said they are something her children would be interested in.

Although she is taking an astronomy class, Jessica Lovelace , a senior middle-childhood education major, had not heard about the free shows either until she saw a poster for them.

“I would go if I had the time free,” Lovelace said. “I enjoy going to things like that, or the OMNIMAX.”

Lovelace is not the only student who is unable to attend the planetarium shows due to time constraints.

“I heard about it in University 101,” said sophomore Joey Battaglia. “It seems interesting, but I usually have to work, and don’t have the time.”

Free Mondays, which have been held in Haile Digital Planetarium since its opening in 2007, are not the only form of outreach at the planetarium.. The planetarium is also available to groups, such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. The facility is also used for an astronomy summer camp for children in grades sixth through eighth.

According to Spence, donations are accepted; however, there is no charge for using the planetarium. The facility is funded by grants and earmarks, as well as astronomy, history, archaeology and art classes, which are held there.

“Seven Wonders” will be the featured show through the end of October. “Kentucky’s Cascade Cave” will debut Oct. 31, and will be featured through April 2012.

An archive of previous shows are available to choose from for scheduled events, including “Wonders of the Universe,” “Microcosm,” “Two Small Pieces of Glass” and “New Horizons,” as well as two- to three-minute mini-shows, such as “Compare Planets” and “Elements.”

For more information about Haile Digital Planetarium, including a full list of shows, go to