The Parkland College Blog

Fracking First Topic of Kaler Science Talks for Fall

UI engineering professor to discuss benefits of hydraulic fracturing process

The hot-button topic of fracking for oil and gas heads the list of James B. Kaler Science Lectures this fall at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.

University of Illinois engineering professor Dr. David N. Ruzic will present "The Truth (and Huge Benefit) Behind Fracking and Pipelines," Friday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door with Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium admitted free of charge. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for gas and oil, and building pipelines to deliver that gas and oil to where it is needed, has led to energy independence for North America and heralded a huge economic boom for the U.S. Yet the average citizen, and especially one who is young, typically holds a negative impression of these two technologies.

Ruzic will explain what fracking and pipelines are, how they are used, why they are beneficial compared to the alternatives, and why common misconceptions persist about the process.

Ruzic is the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as director of the Center for Plasma Material Interactions. A UIUC faculty member for the last 34 years, he is a Fellow in three different societies and leads an active research group of over 40 people. The university has awarded him the Campus-wide Teaching Award, the College-wide Teaching Award, and several departmental teaching awards. One of his introductory courses on Energy was made into a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) in Coursera and is available for free on the “Go Illinois” website. Ruzic earned his PhD from Princeton University in 1984.
   
Following Ruzic’s talk, the Staerkel Planetarium will present its newest fulldome feature, “Experience the Aurora,” followed by its "Pink Floyd’s 'The Wall'" show. Tickets for regular programs range from $5 to $6 per person. For a full show schedule, visit the planetarium website or call 217/351-2446. 

Ready for a bachelor's or master's degree? Use your Parkland credits! The following colleges will have representatives on hand this fall in the Student Union (unless otherwise noted) to discuss four-year degrees and transfer options.
 

Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Tuesday, September 25
Monday, October 29
10 am–1 pm
Representative: ​Nathan Caron

Wednesday, September 26
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Michael Harbin

Marines
Tuesday, September 25
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Sgt. Jeremy T. Stillwagon, RSS Champaign

Eastern Illinois University
Thursdays, September 27 and November 8
Friday, October 12
Wednesday, October 24
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Ryan Howard

Loyola University
Monday, October 1
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Victoria Hogle

Olivet Nazarene University
Thursdays, October 4, November 1, December 13
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Sarah Richardson

Aurora University
Thursday, October 18
Monday, November 26
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Barbara McCarthy

Quincy University
Wednesday, November 28
10 am–1 pm
Representative: Justin Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Show, Digital System to Debut in Planetarium Opener

"Experience the Aurora" to feature dramatic fulldome images from new Digistar 6

After a month's closure, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium will reopen to public audiences on the Sept. 7-8 weekend with a new operating system and a new fulldome show.

"Experience the Aurora," featuring fulldome, time-lapse imagery of the Northern Lights, will premiere Sept. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and run every Friday and Saturday night through October. The show will be presented on Staerkel's Digistar 6 operating system, an upgrade from the Digistar 4 system installed eight years ago. The planetarium has been closed since Aug. 8 to install the new system. 

Winner of two Telly Awards for video production,"Experience the Aurora" shares the science behind the aurora and tells the story of the quest to find and photograph the aurora. Its dramatic images involve high-resolution digital cameras outfitted with fisheye lenses. For the first time, the aurora has been captured as it was meant to be experienced, an immersive display covering the entire sky, according to Dave Leake, director of the planetarium.  

"Though computer visualizations are quite wonderful these days, we were intrigued that this show includes fisheye photography of this beautiful phenomenon," Leake remarked. "We hope audiences will be as amazed as we were!"

Leake explained that the Digistar 6 system contains new features that will be both visible and "under the hood." Tools such as auto-align and auto-blend will drastically reduce maintenance time by aligning projectors with the push of a button. Other D6 benefits for planetarium staff include a cloud-sourced STEAM library, a new NOAA Earth database, and a revised user interface. Audiences will be able to view various terrains including Earth and Mars as well as a volumetric Milky Way (i.e., shown more as a physical model than as a flat image).  

“We have a lot to learn before we reopen; our show producer, Waylena McCully, is busy converting many of our older shows to the new format," Leake said. "We're exited about having a new star field and other features to show off this season.”  

Funding for the upgrade comes from the Parkland Foundation, the Planetarium Revolving Fund and the Campus Master Plan. For a full schedule of fall 2018 planetarium programs, visit parkland.edu/planetarium or call the show hotline at 217/351-2446. 

Planetarium Announces Lecture Series for 2018-2019

Talks let local research community share its knowledge with the public

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.

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. Talks occur on the first Friday of the months classes are in session at 7 p.m., and admission to each is $2 at the door. Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium are admitted free of charge. 

The fall lectures will be highlighted with UIUC Engineering Professor David Ruzic speaking on fracking and cross-country pipelines. In November, astronomer Jeff Filippini will discuss dark matter, and in December, geologist Steven Marshak will bring firsthand experience and images of the recent volcanic activity in Hawaii. 

As we look into the new year, entomologist May Berenbaum brings us up close and personal with spiders and how they have been maligned in the movies. Storm chaser Andrew Pritchard returns to the dome in March with more exciting tornado video. The series ends in April as Alex Schwing (UIUC Electrical and Computer Engineering) focuses on artificial intelligence. 

The series lineup with descriptions is available at the planetarium website. For more information, visit the website or contact the planetarium at 217/351-2567. For a list of upcoming shows, contact the show hotline at 217/351-2446.

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium will conduct two interactive Merit Badge workshops for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts this spring. Advance registration is required.

Girl Scout Naturalist Sky Badge workshops run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on either April 17 or April 25. You only need to attend one session. Cost is $4 per Scout; leaders are free. 

Boy Scout Astronomy Merit Badge workshops run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on either May 15 or May 23. You only need to attend one session. Cost is $5 per Scout; leaders are free. 

Scouts will receive a booklet based on the requirements. For more information, call 217/351-2567.

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