Astronomy Show Takes Guests To The Stars

HFC and the Ford Amateur Astronomy Club combined to offer an assembly called “The Road Not Taken” which is an astronomy lecture that mixes poetry, mythology, astronomy and spectacular visuals. The assembly functions to teach students or non-students about the patterns and events of the Autumnal evening sky. The show takes place in HFC’s own Hammond Planetarium. It is narrated by Susan McGraw, was created by Dr. Michael LoPresto, and is supported by the aforementioned astronomy club along with Steve Murrell and Dr. Charles Jacobs.

The show opens up with a simple display of the stars in the night sky and then moves to discussions about Earth and Venus; all of which are backed by vast images that travel through space and changing constellations. Cody Reichow, a spectator of the event, said energetically, “I’m not an HFC student… And this show still allowed me to have a free educational experience that was also fun. I think that’s a spectacular thing in itself.” He left cheerful and hinted at bringing his friends to the show, solidifying it as an attraction that goes past just HFC’s student body.

This event is made more pleasant by the recent influx of technology that has upgraded the planetarium in the past few years. Robert Clubb, a member of the Astronomy Club and occasional showrunner for “The Road Not Taken,” expressed that there was an “addition of a fulldome projector, a new seating arrangement, as well as a replacement of 35 mm slide projectors with modern LED projectors.” All of these renovations provide audiences with a seamless production.

These additions are beneficial to HFC in a myriad of ways. Steve Murrell, the planetarium director, said that the planetarium can be used as “an educational tool or a visual aid for astronomy classes… The planetarium also affords the college the opportunity to give back to the community… Weekly [planetarium] shows are presented free of charge.” HFC’s planetarium offers numerous incentives to see shows; especially the aforementioned program. Murrell also expressed that this show is “fairly unique to combine [science and mythology] with poetry as is being done in the HFC Hammond Planetarium.” Murrell’s statement suggests that the Fall assembly is a relatively homegrown product for HFC.

Later in his interview, Clubb spoke about his favorite part of running the show, saying that it is, “When someone gets excited about seeing the stars. We live in a world that tends to blind us to the awe, wonder, and majesty of our night sky. I feel privileged and honored to be able to show people the sky as our ancestors once viewed the heavens.” Mr. Clubb’s facial expressions during and after the show illustrated his excitement over this program which many people seem to find entertaining, educational and worthwhile.