Angelo State University Planetarium reopens after a year’s absence

The dome offers two shows a week for people of all ages.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Every Texan knows at least two things about stars:

1. They are big.
2. They are brilliant.

But Kenneth Carrell, assistant professor of physics and director of the planetarium, would like to tell you a lot more.

Angelo State University’s planetarium recently opened for the first time since COVID returned in March of last year, and Carrell is pleased to see shows are already selling out in the dome of 122 seats.

The planetarium was built in 1982, and while the current dome is still original, just about everything else has been revamped over the past decade.

“We now have the projectors where we can show full movies of the dome, instead of just showing stars and planets and things,” Carrell said. “So it’s a much more immersive experience now because of the shows. It’s similar to an IMAX-like format, but it’s around you and above you.

A native of Mertzon, Carrell earned a doctorate at Texas Tech before joining the ASU faculty in 2016, and recently received a $105,535 grant from the National Science Foundation over two years, funding a research project in astrophysics. involving undergraduate students.

“The NSF grant is actually really exciting. The goal of this grant is to increase the participation of women and minorities in particular. So I’m really excited to have the opportunity to help underrepresented groups in these STEM fields to engage more and hopefully create more astronomers,” Carrell said. “Most of the funds will go to travel.”

“We go to the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis quite often. It will also fund student trips to American Astronomical Society meetings, so they can not only do research at the observatory, but also present it. to their peers in astronomy.”

Planetarium shows are at 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children, seniors, and active military. There is no fee for ASU students, faculty, and staff. Tickets are only available at the door at this time, but Carrell said online ticket purchases are coming soon.

This Thursday’s show is called “The Cowboy Astronomer” and Carrell said it was a good presentation for lawn chair astronomers to ignite or rekindle their love for the stars.

“That one is great. It talks about the night sky and how normal people see the constellations and some of the stories that go with it and why the night sky is important, that kind of stuff, but in a way that’s relatable, especially for people in West Texas.”

Carrell hopes people attending the shows will take advantage of San Angelo’s relatively remote location to experience the wonders of the sky.

“You know, we’re really lucky here in West Texas. We have pretty dark skies in San Angelo. The city lights mean we can’t see much, but just outside the city, you can see a very dark sky. , beautiful sky. So I hope people come to see these shows and make that connection with the sky again and realize how lucky we are, and have a chance to get out and to enjoy the night sky maybe a bit more, by knowing some constellations and the planets they can see.

Turns out they really are bigger and brighter in the heartland of Texas.

Arline J. Mercier