The Parkland College Blog

Staerkel Planetarium debuts free virtual Kaler Science Lectures in October

Series begins with "Looking at the Night Sky with Artificially Intelligent Eyes" on October 2

Parkland College's William M. Staerkel Planetarium will be resuming the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series virtually this fall, beginning with Dr. Gautham Narayan's "Looking at the Night Sky with Artificially Intelligent Eyes," on Friday, October 2 at 7 pm on Zoom, free to the public.

Dr. Gautham Narayan, assistant professor at the Department of Astronomy at the University of Illinois, earned a B.S. from Illinois Wesleyan and a Ph.D. at Harvard. Before joining the University of Illinois in 2019, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and was the Barry M. Lasker Data Science Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Wide-field optical survey telescopes are now producing too many observations for humans to look through. Buried in these petabytes of pixels are rare and exotic sources like kilonovae, explosions which can be caused by the mergers of neutron stars. Discovering these events is now akin to looking for a needle among thousands of haystacks.

To cope with the deluge of data, astrophysicists employ artificial intelligence (AI). Dr. Narayan will cover how the same algorithms that underlie driverless cars, voice recognition, and your bank’s ability to detect fraudulent transactions is now telling us about the variable sky, and ultimately the nature of dark energy and the fate of the Universe.

The Staerkel Planetarium is offering virtual programs while the dome is closed to the public. Following the Kaler lecture, the planetarium will present Fall Prairie Skies at 8 pm on the same Zoom meeting. This live-narrated tour of the night sky includes a focus on Mars, which is getting brighter in the evening. For a full show schedule and for links to the Zoom meetings, visit the planetarium website or email planetarium@parkland.edu.
 

Planetarium Announces Virtual Lecture Series for 2020-2021

William M. Staerkel Planetarium will continue Kaler Lecture Series virtually

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is pleased to announce the newest lineup of speakers in the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series, which will continue virtually this year due to the pandemic. 


For more than 25 years, the planetarium has served as a conduit for the local research community to share its knowledge with the general public, and this year will only be slightly different as lectures move to Zoom. Talks occur on the first Friday of the months classes are in session at 7 p.m., and admission will be free.
 
The fall lectures will kick off with UIUC Astronomy Professor Dr. Gautham Narayan speaking about astrophysicists using AI to manage the tremendous amount of data collected by wide-field optical survey telescopes. In November, Katy Huff of UIUC's Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering will present on what's new in nuclear energy.

As we look into the new year, enjoy stunning spring photography from Jeffrey Bryant of Wolfram Alpha, LLC and hear about some of the winged friends we have flying over Central Illinois. Caleb Brooks (UIUC, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering) will discuss "micro nuclear reactors" based on his work in the Multiphase Thermo-fluid Dynamics Laboratory. 
 
Due to the pandemic, some information might be subject to change. Visit the Kaler Lecture Series page to stay up to date on show listings, or call the show hotline at 217/351-2446. For more information about the Planetarium, visit their website or contact them at 217/351-2567. 

Meteorologist Discusses Tornado and Storm Chasing

Tornado videos shown at March 6 Kaler Science Lecture

Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard will present "Chasing Tornadoes: It's not what you think!" on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m., as part of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, where he will discuss tornado formation and myths about storm chasing. 

As the weather gets warmer, the Midwest has an increased risk of severe storms. Meteorologists study the weather patterns that lead to these events and inform the public about what can be done to prepare for storms in the future. Pritchard uses this same information to hunt down tornadoes. 

The lecture will provide a background on why tornadoes are prone to form in our part of the country, dispel some misconceptions about storm chasing, discuss severe weather safety tips, and share some videos of Pritchard's recent tornadoes.

Pritchard, the operator of Chambana Weather, is an alum of Parkland College and Northern Illinois University, where he completed his B.S. in Meteorology. Chambana Weather provides weather forecasts of east central Illinois each day for local media such as WILL. He works for Nutrien Ag Solutions, studying the effects of weather on production agriculture around the globe.

After the presentation, the Staerkel Planetarium will premiere the fulldome feature, Phantom of the Universe, at 8 p.m. Tickets for regular programs are $6 for adults and $5 for students, seniors, and children under 12. Lecture Series tickets are $2 per person. All tickets are sold at the door; they can be purchased in the Planetarium lobby 30 minutes prior to the show. For more information and a full show schedule, visit parkland.edu/planetarium or call 217/351-2446. 

"Chicago" Comes To Parkland Theatre

"Chicago" to open at Harold and Jean Miner Theatre in April

Chicago, written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, comes to the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre at Parkland College on April 9–26.   

Aspiring vaudevillian Roxie Hart has convinced her hapless husband Amos to take the rap for the murder of Fred Casely—until he finds out he’s been betrayed! Now on trial and sent to death row, Roxie must use her charm and the ego of esteemed lawyer Billy Flynn to prove her “innocence,” all while trying to capitalize on her newfound celebrity. Set in the Roaring Twenties, Chicago is the winner of 6 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. Get ready for jazz, prohibition, sequins, feathers, and a show full of songs you know and love!

Abby Gailey directs a cast that includes Jake Fava, Sam Gegg, Hanna Yonan, Kimmy Schofield, Jess Schlipf, Haylie Denzer, Katie Odom, Zoe Dunn, Erin Kaufman, Rachel Gillett, Laura Alcantara, Whitney Havice, Kara Kinnamon, Natalie Deptula, Hannah Brauer, Autumn Ellis, Bradyn Wambach, James Castree, Excellence Onolundula, and Josiah Zielke.
 
The Parkland Theatre will be holding a talk-back immediately following the April 9 show. Members of the cast and crew will be on hand to discuss the show and answer audience questions.
  
Performances will take place in the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre on April 9, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 at 7:30 p.m., and April 19 and 26 at 3 p.m. 
 
Tickets:

  • Adult $25 

  • Student/Youth/Senior/Veteran $22  

  • Group (10+) $20

  • Opening night is half-price! 

To purchase tickets, visit tickets.parkland.edu. For more show information, visit parkland.edu/theatre.

This production contains mature content.

All Parkland Theatre tickets must be purchased either in advance online or from the ticket booth at the time of the performance. Ticket reservations will no longer be accepted. No ticket refunds or exchanges are allowed. For more information, visit tickets.

 

Parkland College Ensembles Offer Free Spring Concerts

Parkland College's spring concert season opens in March

Parkland College's spring concert season opens with March performances by several ensembles.

"New American Classics": A Joint Concert by the Parkland Chamber Singers and the Wind Ensemble 
Sunday, March 1, 3 p.m.
Harold and Jean Miner Theatre

The Parkland Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Franklin Gallo, will perform “Sing a Mighty Song” by Daniel Gawthrop, “Nearer My God to Thee” by BYU Vocal Point, and others.
 
Jonathan Beckett will direct the Parkland Wind Ensemble in performing an evocative arrangement of “Amazing Grace”, classic band composition by Malcolm Arnold; “Prelude, Siciliano and Rondo” and the exciting “Rhythm Danse” by great American composer Richard Saucedo, among others.


"Festive Celebration": A Joint Concert by the Concert Band and Orchestra Ensembles
Sunday, March 8, 3 p.m.
Harold and Jean Miner Theatre

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of its inception, the Parkland Concert Band will perform a selection of songs directed by current Concert Band director Larry Stoner; past directors Gregory Grove (2002-2005) and Ernie Hoffman (1970-1996); and past guest conductor Barry Houser. Songs performed will include “Chorale and Shaker Dance” by John Zdecklik, directed by Larry Stoner; “Montmarte March” by Haydn Wood, directed by Gregory Grove; “Armed Forces Salute” by Bob Lowden, directed by Ernie Hoffman; and “Illinois March” by Edwin Franko Goldman, directed by Barry Houser, among others.

Parkland's Orchestra, directed by Rodney Mueller, will perform “Celebration” by Richard Meyer; “Fervent is my Longing” by Johann Sebastian Bach, orchestrated by Lucian Calliet; “The Planets” by Gustav Holst: ‘Jupiter’ arranged by Vernon Leidig, and ‘Mars’ arranged by Clark McAlister; and “The Sea Hawk” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, arranged by Jerry Brubaker.

For more information on Parkland College music performances, visit parkland.edu/musicensembles

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