Arlington Planetarium

Posted by barb on Oct 11, 2003 in Around DC, Wedding |

We went to see Just Imagine, a show at the Arlington Planetarium. I frankly wasn’t expecting much from such a small planetarium, but the show was quite good! It is broken up into four parts, each asking the viewer to explore different areas of astronomy.

The first section, Just Imagine A Sky Full of Stars, talks about the stars in the night sky, and the constellations. It points out that the pictures seen in various star groupings vary from place to place, and that no one way of describing those constellations is better than another. Astronomers have chosen 87 standard constellations, but only for convenience.

The second section, Just Imagine The Earth Without the Moon, discusses the effects that the moon has had on the Earth over it’s lifetime. The Moon caused the Earth’s rotation to slow, and also causes our tides. In addition, the Moon was our first target for extraterrestrial travel — perhaps without such a close extraterrestrial body, we would not have been so driven to travel off of our world.

The third section, Just Imagine The Last Days of the Universe, introduces the two main theories of the fate of the Universe: infinite expansion or eventual collapse. In the course, dark matter is briefly discussed, and a picture of what the night sky might look like in both scenarios is presented on some future world 15 billion years from now.

Finally, the fourth section, Just Imagine Our sun as a Different Star, talks about the different classes of stars, and how life might be different if our sun was not a run of the mill yellow star.

Overall it was an excellent show.

It also gave me the idea to explore how to fund a planetarium show that either focuses on women in astronomy or somehow relates to the missions I work on. I’m certain there could be a way to develop such a show through an E/PO grant through NASA.

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