Join us for our first “Astro Afternoon” of planetarium shows. Come for as many shows as you choose. The lineup for Sept. 8 is as follows:
1:00 The Sky this Month LIVE (~45 min)
2:00 Oasis in Space (good show for elementary ages, 30 min)
3:00 “Quandaries of the Cosmos” (a Hatter Planetarium original production, 30 min)
4:00 The Sky this Month LIVE (~45 min)
Between shows we will play astronomy-related podcasts in the dome and set up a solar telescope outside if the sky is clear. The Hatter Planetarium is located in Masters Hall, Room 115, on the Gettysburg College Campus. Shows are free and all are welcome as seats remain. No admittance while a show is running.
We are excited to announce another semester of public shows at the Hatter Planetarium! There are a couple of important changes that we hope will make it easier to attend.
ASTRO AFTERNOONS. Twice a month during the academic year we will offer an afternoon of four shows. A typical schedule will look like this:
1:00 The Sky this Month LIVE
2:00 Recorded Show (e.g., “Oasis in Space”)
3:00 Recorded Show
4:00 The Sky this Month LIVE
Weekday Showings of The Sky this Month, 12:00 Noon. We are adding a second Thursday at noon showing to this program. Since we will be repeating “The Sky This Month” at six showings on four dates, note that repeated presentations of this program in the same month will include minor updates for sky position on the current date but otherwise will be substantially the same. Breaking astronomy news will be held for the next month’s show.
ASTRO AFTERNOONS (Shows at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00)
1:00 and 4:00 will be “The Sky this Month” (running time ~45 minutes). Titles and descriptions of the 2:00 and 3:00 shows will be posted on this blog as dates approach.
The Sky this Month (@Noon!)
The Hatter Planetarium is located in Masters Hall, Room 115, on the Gettysburg College Campus. Shows are free and all are welcome as seats remain. No admittance while a show is running.
Science fiction, and especially science fiction about space, has long been a sandbox for exploring ethical questions. For this year’s Hatter Planetarium production the staff (Fran Costa ’19, James Lamb ’21, Mikayla Cleaver ’19, and director Ian Clarke) created four scenarios exploring ethical dilemmas related to the universe beyond earth. These scenarios may be at times whimsical, but they all investigate their subjects with at least a moderate degree of realism.
Who needs Sean Bean or Patrick Stewart? For this show we also brought in some voice talent. Former astronomy student and member of the Owl and Nightingale Players Gauri Mangala ’21 is your narrator.
Sunday, April 14, 2:30 & 4:00 PM Thursday, April 18, 12:00 Noon
As usual this show is free and open to the public, first-come, first-served. The Hatter Planetarium is located in Masters Hall, room 115. Doors close when the show begins.
A show will go on! Our student assistants are on campus and will have a presentation at 2:30 and 4:00 for anyone who shows up despite the winter storm today. It won’t be “The Sky this Month,” however. That will be offered Thursday 3/7 at 12:00 Noon as scheduled.
The Hatter Planetarium will resume our series of monthly sky talks on January 27 at 2:30 and 4:00 PM and January 31 at 12:00 noon. Visit our immersive, full-dome digital theater for a guided tour of the current night sky and a review of recent astronomy news. This month’s news will include a look at the recent Ultima Thule fly-by as well as some views of Sunday’s lunar eclipse. Sky highlights will include two bright planets in the morning sky.
This free program is a live presentation given by Hatter Planetarium director, Ian Clarke. The Hatter Planetarium is located on the first floor of Masters Hall. The show is free and the public is welcome. First-come, first-seated; the doors close when the show begins.
It’s time to announce our schedule of public shows for Spring 2019. The first show of the semester is “The Sky this Month” on January 27 and 31. All of our shows are free and open to the public and the campus community until seats are filled. Doors close when the show begins. Duration of the shows varies, but all are under an hour.
Following in the tradition of “Constellations across the Cultures” (2017) and “Gettysburgians Talk about Time” (2018), we are creating another in-house production this spring. The topic, chosen with our student assistants, will be the ethics of space exploration. The title is TBA, but it will debut on April 14. Watch this blog for updates as we work on it.
Scroll down for the full schedule. You can also download it as a PDF or access it via the college’s events calendar.
The Sky this Month
Immersive tour of the
current sky, plus astronomy news and notes. General audience.
January 27, 2:30
January 27, 4:00
January 31, Noon
From Earth to the Universe
Good show for kids
grade 4+ and their families.
February 17, 2:30
February 17, 4:00
February 21, Noon
The Sky this Month
March 3, 2:30
March 3, 4:00
March 7, Noon
‘How Did it Get so Late so Soon?’: Gettysburgians Talk about Time
Our own production
from Spring 2018; featured in the winter alumni magazine.
March 24, 2:30
March 24, 4:00
March 28, Noon
The Sky this Month
March 31, 2:30
March 31, 4:00
April 4, Noon
Our Own New Production,
Working topic is
space ethics. Check the website/blog for updates!
Sunday, September 30, at 2:30 and 4:00
Thursday, October 4, at 12:00 Noon
Visit our immersive, full-dome digital theater for a guided tour of the current night sky and a review of recent astronomy news. This free program is a live presentation given by Hatter Planetarium director, Ian Clarke. This month’s program will include the astronomical roots of Halloween and the hopping rovers of Hayabusa 2.
The Hatter Planetarium is located on the first floor of Masters Hall. The show is free and the public is welcome. First-come, first-seated; the doors close when the show begins.
Better late than never, my memories of eclipse 2017, including “Bear” the motorcycle astronomer and a mysteriously obedient black cat.
by Ian Clarke, Hatter Planetarium Director
A year ago–August 20, 2017– my wife and I packed up a car with water, power bars, sleeping bags, and extra eclipse glasses. We headed southeast from Pennsylvania toward the path of totality. On the way I read aloud that gold standard in eclipse writing, Annie Dillard’s essay “Total Eclipse.” After finishing I was forced to admit that, yes, perhaps the prose was just a bit redolent of the 1970s. Was there any chance that we’d really find ourselves screaming and then transported, speechless, to shadowed wheatfields on the banks of the Euphrates? In the late afternoon we set up camp in Western Kentucky. “Camp Umbra,” as I called it, was in a large clearing outside one of the many old cemeteries in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, remnants of the days before the TVA dams. We spent a restful night under a tarp, during which we were visited by absolutely no mosquitoes, midges, gnats, no-see-ums, or other arthropods (my wife seems to recall this a little differently).
Over the morning of Eclipse Day the unpublicized, off-the-grid clearing became a small community of a couple dozen shadow-seekers. At the center of it was “Bear,” a gregarious motorcyclist and amateur astronomer who had ridden down from Indianapolis with a tripod, spotting scope, and white projection screen strapped to his bike.
Just before 10:00 AM the disc of the moon began to slide across the face of the sun. We watched, using eclipse glasses, pinhole projection, and Bear’s scope as the eclipse progressed. Just after a quick lunch it surpassed the deepest partial eclipse my wife and I had ever seen. By then, any small opening–the spaces between leaves, a circle made with your fist–projected a shrinking crescent sun, or even many crescent suns if you looked under the right tree. The light was not so much dimming as it was being weirdly siphoned out of the landscape. Weirdly because it was so different from the clouds and sunsets that usually dim the light. Here there was hardly a cloud and the sun was high in the sky, nowhere near rising or setting. Shadows became impossibly sharp, and birds made roosting calls.
At ten minutes to totality a duct-taped Honda crunched gravel and parked outside the graveyard. A couple, probably in their twenties, got out. She announced that she had been looking forward to the eclipse for five years, but they brought no equipment. Bear motioned them to the spotting scope; someone produced two pairs of eclipse glasses. They were amazed and grateful. Behind them trotted a black cat, wearing a collar and dragging a green leash that was apparently completely redundant. It sat down at her feet.
“Once it goes total we can all look without glasses,” someone called out, though surely everyone in the clearing knew that. The cicadas, droning on all morning, suddenly stopped. “Oh listen,” said Bear. Then came the screams. Admittedly, they didn’t come from anyone in our group, but screams they were, from somewhere off to the west and just an instant before the moon’s shadow swept over us. Car horns and barking dogs too. Our staid gathering restricted themselves to “wooooo!” and mild blasphemies. Naturally the sky had gone dark; the sun was replaced by a tiny hole encompassed by the silvery diaphanous glow of the corona.
Here was another of Dillard’s many astute observations–the surprisingly small feature of the eclipse in an expanse of unearthly twilight. I have worked in a planetarium for over fifteen years, and I’ve presented about science and nature for years before that. I can tell you the apparent size of the sun and moon and that that size is smaller than the width of your pinky held at arm’s length. But the defining reality of a total solar eclipse is that it can’t be simulated, for what is required is the complete blocking of direct sunlight before it’s even hit the earth’s atmosphere. You have to experience that. For two minutes and 30.7 seconds we did. That’s a long time in eclipse-land: long enough for each person to look directly through Bear’s scope at the black nothing with its glowing halo. Long enough for each of us to exclaim whatever inadequate cliches offered themselves to mind. Long enough to be silent under the eclipse.
Then the cicadas came back, then “Baily’s Beads,” which are really light streaming through lunar valleys a quarter-million miles away. Then real sunlight. Not much sunlight, but here was another correct Dillard observation. A 99% solar eclipse, the event of a lifetime just a few minutes ago, was now old hat. By 85% most people had packed up their cars. Bear was still there, but the young couple and their black cat had gone without my noticing. I was already thinking of April 8, 2024, in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Maybe they would be there.