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 $2 for everyone and free for members of the Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium. 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. 

2022-2023 Lecture Series

  • 2022 September 2
    "The Science of Einstein's Gravity Playlist"
    Nicolás Yunes (UIUC, Physics) produced our September fulldome show, and after its premiere at 7 p.m., he will discuss the science behind the show and offer a Q&A session with the audience.
  • 2022 October 7
    "Nature & Nurture: Examining How Diverse Organisms Adapt to Changes in their Everyday Environment"
    Community college students and alumni will present their research performed with the Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS).
  • 2022 November 4
    "Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet: Geothermal Energy"
    Tuğçe Baser (UIUC, Civil & Environmental Engineering) presents an overview of geothermal energy and its role in renewable and sustainable energy approaches.
  • 2022 December 2
    "The Importance of Enemies: Examining How Predators Shape Bee Communities"
    Nicholas Anderson (UIUC, Entomology) studies the intersection of native bees and their natural enemies such as spiders.
  • 2023 February 3
    "Syphilis: The Apple of My STI"
    Chelsea Lloyd (Parkland College, Microbiology) discusses the past, present, and future of this sexually transmitted infection and the fascinating bacterium behind it.
  • 2023 March 3
    “Chasing Tornadoes: It's Not What You Think”
    Andrew Pritchard (Chambana Weather) returns to share more information and videos of thunderstorms.
  • 2023 March 8 (Wednesday special!)
    “Birds: It's Not About What, But Where”
    Jeff Bryant (Wolfram Alpha) returns to show more avian photographs before the spring migration.
  • 2023 April 7
    “Analytical Chemistry for Understanding Brain Function and Diseases”
    Mei Shen (UIUC, Chemistry)