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Chemeketa planetarium reaches for the stars with new presentation

The Chemeketa planetarium offers shows every Friday night. Photos by Saul Rodriguez.

By Michael Eubanks

There’s still time to catch this term’s planetarium show.

Each Friday until March 17, the Chemeketa planetarium will host a special presentation of “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System.”

Instructor Chris Claysmith, who teaches physics and astronomy at Chemeketa, manages the planetarium. His duties include organizing the planetarium, as well as running and picking the shows that will be presented each term.

This term’s show features an introduction to the the night sky over Salem and a presentation of a NASA film using the full dome of the theater.

“There’s a little talk at the beginning, kind of an introduction to the planetarium and what we do and how long we’ve been at Chemeketa,” Claysmith said. “Then, there’s what we call the ‘star study’, where we have our old star projector. We use that to say ‘okay, well, here in Oregon it’s cloudy, but – if it was clear – here are the kinds of stars you could see on a night like tonight’…the star study changes from term to term as the stars that are up change from term to term. After the star study we go into the feature, which this term is about IBEX.”

IBEX, which stands for Interstellar Boundary Explorer, is a satellite that is making a map of the boundary between our solar system and interstellar space.

“[The film] has interviews with various scientists who worked with the instrument, as well as a discussion on how the instrument works,” Claysmith said. “[It also talks about] what kind of scientific information it’s giving us.”

In addition to being informative, the film is also fun to watch.

“The visuals are also really good just from an entertainment point of view,” Claysmith said. “There’s lots of cool shots of satellites going around planets and it does a good job of showing our place in the Milky Way. The response has been really good. We’ve been happy.”

The remaining presentations of “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System” will take place at 7:30 p.m.on March 3, 10, and 17 in Bldg.2-171. Admission to the show is $5 for adults and $4 for children and Chemeketa students.