The video above announces our plans to offer virtual planetarium programming for the Fall 2020 semester. Back in March when the college moved to online teaching, we assumed that the resumption of in-person classes would mean we could also restart public planetarium shows. That idea proved a bit simplistic. On August 17, the college will resume in-person classes under some strict guidelines, but public programs in a space like the planetarium will have to wait.
Here’s what the Hatter Planetarium will be doing. First, we will continue to support the astronomy curriculum in person with reduced seating cpacity. Our public outreach, however, will be all online. Planetarium director Ian Clarke will be helped by returning student assistants, James, Meg, and Garrett. We plan to publish virtual shows twice a month; the video above showcases the technology we’ll use. We’ll increase our social media presence through this blog, twitter, and instagram. Feel free to tell us topics you’d like to hear about! We are also working on a free virtual field trip experience to offer to local schools and community groups, which a local teacher will help us test. We are not ready to open the field trip request form yet, but we’ll announce that as soon as we can. Finally, if time allows, we will work on developing new shows for the day when we can physically reopen to the public. When will that be? We hesitate to guess, but we will be excited to announce that as soon as we can.