The Parkland College Blog

Staerkel Planetarium to Host "Dark November" Events

Dark Matter topic for show premiere, science talks

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will celebrate "Dark November" with three events on the topic of Dark Matter.
 
Kaler Science Talk
First, University of Illinois astronomer Jeff Filippini will give a talk titled "The Dark Universe" as part of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series. His presentation will be Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
 
Over the past several decades, astronomers have been driven to a remarkable conclusion: The objects seen through telescopes form only the tiniest portion of the stuff of this Universe. The vast majority of the Universe is in unseen forms, different from anything known from the laboratory. Galaxies and galaxy clusters are held together by the gravitational pull of invisible clouds of Dark Matter, while a mysterious force called "Dark Energy" drives the Universe to expand ever faster. Dr. Filippini will take the audience on a tour of this invisible universe, from the evidence for its presence to the ongoing search to understand its nature.
 
Filippini is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his PhD at University of California, Berkeley, where he searched for Dark Matter using advanced detectors located deep underground. After a postdoctoral position at California Institute of Technology, he arrived at UIUC in 2015. His research probes the history and workings of our cosmos using sensitive cryogenic detectors deployed at the South Pole and aboard stratospheric balloons.
 
Show Premiere
The Staerkel Planetarium opens a new fall show on Dark Matter called "Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The show will run Friday and Saturday nights until the Thanksgiving weekend, when it will be replaced by "Season of Light."
 
From the journey of protons racing through the world's largest particle collider in Europe to up-close views of the Big Bang and emergent universe and the nearly mile-deep descent to an underground experiment in South Dakota, this planetarium show is designed to immerse audiences in the search for this elusive material. The hunt is on! Narrated by Tilda Swinton.
 
"Phantom of the Universe" tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and children under 12, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
 
CUAS Talk
UIUC scientist Dr. Lauren Pearce will give a talk entitled "Dark Matter: Why Do We Think It's Out There?" Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Her talk, part of the monthly Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society meeting at the Staerkel Planetarium, is free of charge.
 
For centuries, astronomers have used their telescopes to study the wonders of the universe: planets, stars, galaxies, etc. In the last century, however, astronomers have started studying something they can’t see in their telescopes: Dark Matter. Pearce will examine the lines of evidence that have convinced astronomers Dark Matter is in fact out there. Audience members will even discover a little about its properties and, time permitting, will discuss some ideas about what it could be.
 
Pearce is a post-doctoral researcher and Fortner Fellow at the UIUC. She is a theoretical cosmologist whose work incorporates particle physics. Her current research focuses include connecting Higgs physics to the generation of the Universe’s matter/antimatter asymmetry and using the cosmic microwave background radiation to constrain interactions between the hypothesized inflation and other fundamental particles. Previously, she has worked on self-interacting Dark Matter models. A native of western Pennsylvania, she completed her PhD at UCLA and was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota. 

A calendar of shows and presentations is available at the planetarium website.

Explore Parkland College academic programs, campus life, support services and more during the school's annual Fall Open House.

This event will take place Friday, Nov. 2 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Student Union atrium and in the L and H buildings for its Health Professions programs.

Designed for high school students, parents of college-bound students, and community members, the Parkland College Fall Open House allows visitors to tour the campus; have their questions answered from admissions, financial aid, and counseling representatives; view student demonstrations and explore the college's innovative features. Breakout sessions on financial aid and the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program also will take place during the open house.

For those interested in criminal justice or forensic science, the Parkland College Forensic Science Lab in Room X104 will be open for public viewing from noon to 2 p.m. that day. The science behind criminal investigation is more challenging and satisfying than popular media portray. Students can view the tools of the trade including fingerprinting techniques, DNA gels and skeletal remains, and an instructor will be on hand to talk about the chemistry of it all.

The Health Professions portion of the open house will take place in the L wing of the main campus and at the H building located in Parkland on Mattis, 1309 N. Mattis Ave. in Champaign. The Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, Surgical Technology and Veterinary Technology programs will be featured in the L wing, while the Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Service, Massage Therapy, Medical Assisting, Nursing Assistant, Occupational Therapy and Practical Nursing programs will be featured at the H building. Visitors can enjoy chair massages from Massage Therapy students, get their vitals taken from Medical Assisting students and view lab demonstrations from Nursing and Occupational Therapy students in the H building.

For more information about the Parkland College Fall Open House, contact Admissions and Records at 217/351-2482 or admissions@parkland.edu.

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. 

RSS
12345678