The UF Planetarium offers a unique learning environment

The University of Findlay’s Newhard Planetarium is once again open to the public, with visitors following the university’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

UF says if you’re interested in teaching and/or learning in a unique and fun way, Newhard Planetarium might be just what you’re looking for.

A planetarium is generally thought of as a theater inside a dome in which a projector presents astronomy: the sun, the moon, the stars, the planets, etc.

“Our planetarium here on campus is exceptional because the projector in the dome is digital, therefore we are able to display any media,” said Steven Wild, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics.

“The idea is that we can project things into the dome for viewers to watch. Usually these are things related to astronomy, but we can show all kinds of projections.

The Newhard Planetarium seats around 50 people and was closed to the public from March 2020 to June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, various groups used the planetarium.

Visiting groups at the planetarium included church groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA groups, summer camps, and local elementary through high school classes.

The planetarium averaged about a few thousand visitors a year.

Some learning experiences visitors would take part in at the Newhard Planetarium included: reading under the stars, chemistry in a box, astronomy stories from other cultures, and even a Harry Potter astronomy exhibit.

“The options are truly endless with the fun activities we can do in the planetarium,” said Professor Wild.

In the future, he hopes more people can use the dome for educational purposes.

“Overall, it’s a different experience for the students and it’s something they’re excited about.”

To learn more about the Newhard Planetarium, visit the Newhard Planetarium webpage by clicking here or schedule a visit by emailing Dr. Wild at [email protected]

Arline J. Mercier