Get Stars In Your Eyes At Williams College’s Hopkins Observatory
If the last time you visited a planetarium was in grade school (I must admit that I’m one of those people), you may want to free up one of your Friday nights this fall, say around 8 p.m. The Milham Planetarium, located inside the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College, will host free shows for the public on Friday evenings, beginning this week and running through December 7. Advanced students from the College will lead the approximately 50-minute shows, which make use of the Observatory’s high-precision Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3/B opto-mechanical planetarium projector, installed in April 2005.
The school’s Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy, Jay Pasachoff, is the director of the Observatory — the oldest extant observatory in the United States, built in 1836-38 by the first professor of astronomy at Williams College, Albert Hopkins.
“We have a fantastic projector from the Zeiss company, from Germany, which invented the projection planetarium almost a 100 years ago,” says Pasachoff. The students use the star images to teach about the night sky and the constellations in it, including phases of the moon, the varying temperatures/colors of stars, locations of neighboring galaxies, the mythological figures and zodiacal signs ascribed to constellations, comets and more. “The planetarium can mimic the rising and setting of the stars from different latitudes, and we also demonstrate the changing positions of the planets.”
In addition, the Observatory’s side rooms house the Mehlin Museum of Astronomy, which are open to the public.
Shows are free, but reservations are required due to space (no pun intended) constraints. Please contact Michele Rech at (413) 597-2188 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to save your spot. Others will be admitted as space permits. Large groups should call for special appointments.
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