University of Guam Planetarium helps visitors reach for stars

University of Guam Planetarium helps visitors reach for stars

by: Kyle Mandapat
Stripes Guam
published: December 09, 2013
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Guam’s stars and consolations come alive for viewers at the University of Guam Planetarium in Mangilao.

Located on the second floor of the Science building at the University, the planetarium has been opening the eyes of viewers with locally produced shows of the skies since 1969, according to Pam “The Star Lady” Eastlick who runs the facility.

“It’s a unique experience,” describes Eastlick. “Typically the ceiling turns into a beautiful rendition of the night sky and you get to learn about the planets, you get to learn about the stars, you get to learn about a whole bunch of things.”

Lynda Taitano brought her kids to see the show for the first time.

“It’s nice for the kids to be able to see all the sky in it’s entirety,” said Taitano. “In here there are no clouds or streetlights that fade (the stars) out.”

According to Taitano, her kids were in need of a break from the normal teaching tools used in the everyday classroom.

“Some children have more fun learning visually as oppose to reading it from a text book,” Taitano added. “My kids wanted to learn more about space and this is the perfect place to bring them.”

Brandon Hart has been on Guam for the past three months and jumped at the opportunity to see the shows that his coworkers were raving about.

“My family and I moved out here for my job, and my co-workers were the ones who told me about this place,” recalls Hart. “It was entertaining and very knowledgeable; they didn’t have one of these back home, and I’m glad we got a chance to experience this.”

The public shows usually consist of a viewing of a planetarium program, produced by Eastlick showcasing the skies of Guam and where you can find planets, constellations and prominent stars. 

Following the show, viewers are treated to a Q&A and some lessons on Star charts.

Finally, if weather permits, Eastlick likes to bring the crowd outside to see what they can see in the actual sky.

For Ron Gubbins the Planetarium holds important lessons for people, not just about astronomy, but also about culture.

“Rain or shine, you can come here and look up and see the traditions of any culture,” says Gubbins. “There is seasonal show (Eastlick) does about the Chamorro skies and the local people get to learn about their traditions to keep the culture going.”

The planetarium offers free monthly shows the second weekend of the month, Thursday- Saturday, 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Doors opening at 6 p.m. Citing recent talk of possibly closing of the planetarium at the end of the spring semester, Eastlick urges people to come see and support the shows.

“This is the people’s planetarium, their money paid for it, and planetarium shows are always free,” said Eastlick. She also encourages concerned patrons to spread the word.

Others have also voiced concern.

“I think this place is very amazing and I think it should be required for the kids to get exposure to this,” said community member Juanita Blas. “Closing this place would be a shame, we learn about our culture here, our skies and we learn that everybody matters, no matter how big the sky is, we are all an important piece of it all.”

For information or to book a group visit to University of Guam Planetarium, visit Guam.net/planet or email star@guam.net
 

Tags: Travel