The Staerkel Planetarium will remain in a digital format through Spring 2021. Our Zoom links have been updated, use the links in the schedule below.

UIUC astronmer Jim Kaler, photo from University of Illinois Archives

On the first Friday of the month at 7 pm, the Staerkel Planetarium becomes a forum for a local scientist to discuss his or her specialties. 

All audiences are welcome! Admission is free for our shows on Zoom. Teachers, group leaders, invite your classes! 

The series was named for UIUC astronomer Jim Kaler, who gave his time to speak in our series every year for over 20 years. 

2020-2021 Lecture

  • 2020 October 2 
    "Looking at the night sky with artificially intelligent eyes"
    Gautham Narayan (UIUC, Astronomy) will show how astrophysicists are using AI to manage the tremendous amount of data collected by wide-field optical survey telescopes.
    Zoom link
  • 2020 November 6
    "Atomic Advancements"
    Katy Huff (UIUC, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering) will present on what's new in nuclear energy. This talk will demystify transformative new reactor, fuel, and recycling technologies ready to support a clean energy future worldwide. 
    Zoom link
  • 2020 December 4
    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend: Enlisting bacterial viruses to combat drug-resistant infections"
    Asma Hatoum-Aslan (UIUC, Microbiology) sheds light on bacterial viruses, a.k.a. phages, which are lethal to Staphylococcus bacteria and may provide an alternative treatment against antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the future.
    Zoom link
  • 2021 February 5
    "Climate, Water, Life, and Rock: Past Climate Information in Tropical Pacific Lake Sediments"

    Jessica Conroy (UIUC, Geology and Plant Biology) introduces the field of paleoclimatology and and shows how her team learns the history of climate change over the last millennium from lakes found in coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean.
    Zoom link
  • 2021 March 5
    “Birds of East Central Illinois: Natural Beauty You Probably Didn't Notice”
    Enjoy stunning photography from Jeffrey Bryant (Wolfram Alpha, LLC) and hear about some of the winged friends we have flying over Central Illinois. Some may surprise you!
    Zoom link
  • 2021 April 2
    “Why is nuclear fusion seen as the energy of the future: The basics of the energy driving the Sun and the universe”
    Daniel Andruczyk (UIUC, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering) will go through the basics of fusion, why scientists and engineers are so interested in it, and describe two of the methods they use to control it.
    Zoom link