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Planetarium presents black holes on the big screen

Packed with mind-boggling numbers and astounding graphics, Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity is the first professional show in the Julia Fowler Planetarium at Eastern.

At the first showing, at least five Eastern students were present, but the planetarium was also packed with adults, college students and even a few children.

Showing twice a day every Friday and Saturday beginning April 20, the presentation runs about 23 minutes and is introduced by physical science professor David Bradstreet.

For those who have never been to the planetarium, picture a circular room with angled backings for students to lie down on the floor. Next, imagine an IMAX movie with the picture surrounding a dome on the ceiling. Approximately 35 people can fit into the planetarium at one time.

Junior Nathanael Lacaria was impressed by the planetarium.

“I think that the machine for the planetarium is an awesome piece of technology; it made me glad to know we have it,” Lacaria said.

Through humor and fascinating images, Bradstreet’s introductory presentation grabs the lapels of his audience and never loses their interest.

“The astronomical resources we have at Eastern are truly state of the art, and very few institutions of any size have these kinds of facilities,” Bradstreet said.

Next comes the real show.

Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity is narrated by Liam Neeson and draws in the audience with bright colors and images. The show explains the Big Bang and why scientists now believe that their data can take humans inside a black hole.

Numbers in the show can be somewhat confusing. One might ask, what exactly is a billion billions? Analogies might be much easier to understand.

Still, the computer simulations in the planetarium are enough to cause the audience’s chins to drop as they stare with wide-eyed fascination at the ceiling. The colors, the details and the wonder the audience feels while watching such a show is quite impressive. This is enough to keep even a 10-year-old interested, but the show might be hard for them to understand.

Senior communications major Kelly Harrington has a suggestion for those interested in viewing the show.

“The only thing that I was a bit critical of was how sore my bum was after sitting on the floor for that long,” Harrington said. “I’d recommend bringing some pillows…and getting there a bit early so you can get the best seats on the left side of the room.”

Overall, the Julia Fowler Planetarium at Eastern seems to have a fairly successful show in the Black Holes. Bradstreet is hopeful that the revenue brought in from this show will be enough to purchase a second professional show for the Planetarium next semester.

The last weekend of the show is May 4 and 5. It will play at 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on both nights, and tickets are $5. Reserve tickets fast, because the show is open to the public.

See www.eastern.edu/planetarium for more information.

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