Area planetariums invite visitors to marvel at the sky

By GEOFF BURNS Jan 25, 2018

There’s an easier, more relaxing alternative for gazing at the stars while shivering outside in single-digit temperatures.

At least that’s how several northwest Ohio planetariums see the matter.

Whether it’s the Ritter Planetarium at the University of Toledo or Bowling Green State University’s Planetarium, various programs aim to educate the public on the stars and constellations as part of their winter schedule.

One of those programs that kicks off this weekend is the Compass, Calendar, Clock show at the Appold Planetarium at Lourdes University.

Laura Megeath, coordinator of the Appold Planetarium, said Compass, Calendar, Clock is designed to educate people about the astronomy and is tied into telling time and where the names of the days of the week and months come from.

“We all know where north, south, east, and west are; the calendars on our desk have seven days in a week, 12 months in a year. Sometimes we forget where those come from,” Megeath said. “This is a look at the underpinnings of those.”

Megeath said the planetarium’s programs usually are inspired by mainstream news regarding outer space and astronomy. She said after the 2015 film The Martian, the Appold hosted a program specifically focused on Mars. Another program celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.

“We try to be responsive for what’s happening in the greater world,” she said. “I’m always looking for new ideas or ways we can take our existing shows and make them more current.”

The University of Toledo’s Ritter Planetarium is offering two “space-age” programs.

Einstein’s Gravity Playlist provides information about how gravitational waves are formed, how they move through the universe, and how scientists work to hear them. Also showing is Back To The Moon For Good, a program that looks at Google’s X prize competition to return to the moon.

Alex Mak, associate planetarium director for Ritter, said Einstein’s Gravity Playlist was booked at the planetarium after gravity waves were detected last year for the first time since Albert Einstein’s predicted their existence in his theory of relativity.

He said the programs are presented in a way that is fun and can be easily understood for its audience.

“We do it to entertain,” he said. “All of our programs have a balance between education and entertainment. We don’t want to just educate. It’s entertaining as much as possible.”

Bowling Green State University’s Planetarium also has various programs scheduled. The planetarium’s shows include the story of the universe, moon landings, fighting light pollution, and the search for planets with life. The university’s shows are part of the planetarium’s 2018 Winterfest schedule that ends on March 2.

“The idea is [for people to say], ‘Yeah, I can do this,’” said Appold’s Megeath. “I want people to leave the show and say, ‘I know a great way to find west easily. I can do this. I can look up at the sky and I can find this particular constellation’ or ‘I know there is going to be a lunar eclipse and what’s going to happen.’”

Compass, Calendar, Clock showings are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, and Feb. 24 at Lourdes University’s Appold Planetarium. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children under the age of 12 and members of the Lourdes community.

Einstein’s Gravity Playlist showings are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays through Feb. 23 and Back To The Moon For Good at 1 p.m. Saturdays through Feb. 24. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12, seniors, and members of the University of Toledo.

Contact Geoff Burns at or 419-724-6054.