It was so exciting talking with Mr. Kalman Mannis, State Program Director for Star Lab Planetarium, a free program brought to you to come and explore the planets, stars and galaxies in the comfort of the indoors. The program was held in the gymnasium at Mogollon High School. Kalman lives in Concho and says he sees a lot in the skies many may not see. He is able to bring the Stellarium to us with aid of a research grant. He says this is how people can learn in rural areas as he travels around Arizona to areas in the White Mountains and South Navajo and Apache counties.
As pictured here you can see the planetarium is a large blow up. Only ten people at a time are able to enter. It’s dark inside as you enter the space and sit down for Kal’s lively presentation. He projects the stars and constellations on the ceiling and makes it easy to view these various constellations because he has drawn lines dot-to-dot depicting the big dipper, little dipper, and the astrological signs such as Gemini, Cancer and Leo. He explained how people long ago knew the seasons by the constellations. For example, Gemini the Twins appears in and around June, and Cancer the Crab around July and Leo the Lion in August. These constellations told them it was summer and a growing season. He pointed out the blue star, Spica and the red star, Scorpio and talked about how they are a points of reference because they never move.
The exhibit was all day in the gymnasium for the students but many students returned with their parents for a repeat show this evening with a lot of enthusiasm to see the show again.
There was a very large impressive map of Mars on the floor. This creation was created by the NASA/GSFC/MOLA Science Team with support of the Mars Exploration Program. It is quite an interesting study in itself.
Thank you, Kal, for bringing us your knowledge and inspiration to explore our galaxies. We hope to see you again next year.
If you missed the show this year you can go to www.stellarium.org. Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope.