By Mary Beth Roach
Those who are fascinated by the skies won’t want to miss the shows being offered at the Shineman Planetarium, located at the Shineman Center on the SUNY Oswego campus.
Every Friday and Sunday at 6 p.m. (with the exception of Christmas weekend, Dec. 23-25, and New Year’s weekend, Dec. 30 – Jan. 1), the planetarium staff offers free shows, each one ranging from 45 to 60 minutes with a question-and-answer session afterward. The Friday shows have a different theme each week, and the subject matter for the Sunday programs changes each month, according to Natalia Lewandowska, planetarium director and assistant professor of physics at SUNY Oswego.
It’s that Q&A session that Lewandowska finds especially enjoyable.
“The community has great questions about what’s happening in the sky,” she said, but sometimes they might be little intimidated to ask. However, she has found that after the shows, that trepidation breaks “After the shows, you see so many smiles,” she said.
While the specific themes for the winter program had not been developed by the time of publication, Lewandowska anticipated that the shows will focus on winter skies.
The planetarium programs are very popular, she believes, because they help people understand what’s going on in the universe and answer many questions, including whether there are other life forms out there and how humans evolved on this planet.
“I think a planetarium attracts so many people because it helps them with the power of visualization to understand seemingly complex processes that are happening in space,” she said. Astronomy is actually physics, and physics is “highly stigmatized as being hard to understand,” she explained further, and a planetarium helps people to better comprehend.
The planetarium is located on the second floor of the Shineman Center and opened with the rest of the facility in 2013. The shows are projected onto its dome, which measures 24 feet in diameter and about 12 feet high. The facility has 39 very comfortable chairs that recline to a certain angle, allowing guests to truly appreciate the full effect of the shows. Additional floor space is available. Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis, and because the programs are popular, guests should plan on getting there a little early.
The Shineman Center is located next to the Marano Campus Center, and parking is available at the C8 lot off of Washington Boulevard.