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Explore the universe without going too far: Staerkel Planetarium

Did you see the moon on Thursday night? It was an incredible shade of gold and looked as big as a dinner plate. A natural phenomenon that no doubt is explainable by people that are much smarter than I am. It’s interesting how much outer space and the universe has intrigued mankind, but it’s maybe gained more steam since film and television were part of the cultural fabric.

Everyone’s seen Star Wars and in the past year-and-a-half Gravity and Interstellar blew up on IMAX. The exploration of the great beyond is inherently interesting, because there’s a treasure-trove of untapped galaxies and planets and stars that human beings haven’t had the time or technology to learn about.

Certainly, with Neil Degrasse Tyson’s popularity on the rise (due to internet culture, I’m sure), it’s been cool to see space exploration and the questions surrounding it crossover even more into the mainstream.

Interestingly enough, Champaign hosts a great resource for observing and exploring the universe: The Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College. Each weekend they show films on the dome of the Planetarium that range from animated 3-d cartoons about ancient history to shows about black holes and the cosmos.

Actually, this weekend marked the debut of Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity. The show’s special effects have local ties (being created here at the University) and they show things like giant galaxies coliding and a simulated flight through a black hole. A space opera that’s grounded in reality.

Oh. And it’s narrated by this guy.

So if you’re so inclined, and you’re missing out on a summer evening of staring at the stars in good weather, don’t sleep on this fantastic resource for education and entertainment. Head to the planetarium and bask in the glow of the universe.

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