Longway Planetarium Introduces New Director and Theater System Upgrades


Patrick ross

FLINT – Growing up in the Flint area, Patrick Ross enjoyed visiting the Longway Planetarium for field trips and theater performances.

Today, at age 29, he runs the planetarium’s operations as the new director.

Ross, who lives in Burton, took office on October 4. As Planetarium Director, he oversees three part-time presenters, develops content for school groups and visiting labs / classes, and oversees the purchase of new shows for the planetarium. He also replaces to lead presentations from time to time.

During his college days, Ross attended the University of Michigan-Flint for his undergraduate degree and worked at the Longway Planetarium as an intern presenter. Although physics was his original field of study, Ross said he was offered an internship position at Longway to fill a gap semester between his undergraduate degree and graduate school, which made him pushed to focus more on space.

Before returning to Longway, Ross received his masters degree from the University of Toledo and worked for three years at Texas A & M-Commerce as a planetarium director.

Outside of his duties at the planetarium, Ross’s primary area of ​​astronomical research involves globular clusters, which are dense masses of ancient stars that gravitationally bonded to each other.

Ross also enjoys studying the night sky and researching his favorite constellation, Orion, and his favorite planet, Saturn.

“It’s easy to take people outside and show them the rings of Saturn,” he said. “You can spot it even if you just have a nice pair of binoculars. While some of the other planets are a bit harder to see and you usually need a telescope to point them.

As the holiday months approach, Ross said he’s excited to introduce the planetarium’s new cinema system, Digistar 7, which replaced Digistar 6 earlier this month. Ross said Digistar 7 will dramatically improve the viewing experience for spectators, especially during the Planetarium’s Skies Over Michigan shows.

“With Digistar 7 we have the ability to capture and dynamically study the night sky and project it onto the dome,” he said. “The planets in our presentations are more beautiful and detailed, and the atmospheres and volumetric clouds appear more realistic.”

Digistar 7 also includes updated astronomical databases and fully interactive and adaptive sky surveys, allowing guests to “fly” through the universe in unprecedented detail as they sit and watch a presentation. on the dome.

To learn more about upcoming Longway Planetarium shows and programs, visit sloanlongway.org.


Arline J. Mercier