Longo Planetarium explores extreme parts of outer space

BY DEREK ALLEN News Editor

The lights dim in the packed circular room. Seats recline. Children are shushed. The domed ceiling overhead illuminates a dazzling night sky, unobstructed by clouds, accompanied by many oohs and aahs. A booming voice rings out: “Welcome to Space Extreme.”

Space Extreme is one of the recent planetarium shows at the Longo Planetarium at County College of Morris. The theatrical show provided by Professor Chris Fenwick covered the “extreme” parts of space such as supernovae, collapsing stars, black holes and colliding galaxies.

“[The show was] mind blowing,” said Lauren Cappadona, a former CCM student. “I have so many more questions now than I ever thought I could have after just an hour.”

The show is constructed to instill more questions about the universe than answers, aiming to inspire more curiosity about space.

“Every night, I get home from night class. I’ll get out of my Jeep and look up at what’s where,” said Ernie Phillips, a computer science major at CCM who works the command center of the show while Fenwick conducts the theatrics. “Sometimes you can see the Milky Way band… I always look at the stars.”

That inspiration stems from Fenwick’s performances at CCM. Fenwick has been acting out shows for a little over 11 years, inspiring visitors at the college to learn more about the universe. Due to the show’s popularity, Fenwick has started asking attendees what they would like to see in future presentations.

“We’ve been slowly adding and adjusting and changing over the years,” Fenwick said. “This is the first time we’ve had evaluation cards [after a show] and part of the card is ‘Do you have any ideas for future shows?’ We want to see what people are interested in.”

Whether it’s tracking a research satellite on its journey through space or flying through the rings of Saturn, the shows at The Longo Planetarium will inspire patrons and students about the marvelous mysteries that space holds.

For more information and show times, visit http://www.ccm.edu/ planetarium, or go to the Longo Planetarium in Cohen Hall room 226 at CCM.

 

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