GNSC 250
Planetarium Operations

Syllabus


 | Description | Requirements | Materials | Assessment | Current Projects |

Related Pages


Course Information


Course Description

Welcome to Planetarium Operations! (We call it Planet Ops for short.) The primary aim of Planetarium Operations is to offer you an introduction to the various technical systems of the OBU Planetarium and to make you at home in the night time sky.

So what kind of course is Planetarium Operations? Planet Ops is a special laboratory course in which students get a behind the scenes glimpse into the operation of the planetarium and begin to participate in its ongoing activity, all the while having the opportunity to get to know the night sky. Planet Ops offers nonintimidating hands-on experience in astronomy, educational principles and multi-media technologies, as well as fine arts and communication skills, and may be of lasting benefit to a variety of students. Students of all majors are welcome to take this course, and your various interests and diverse talents will all contribute to the instructional resources of the OBU planetarium.


Materials

No additional materials are required for second-semester Planet Ops students. First-semester students will find the following supplies in the bookstore:


Meeting Times

Planet Ops meets Monday nights in the planetarium (Rm 108):


Tentative Class Schedule

(Subject to change without notice)

Week #
Basic Training
Hour, 7 pm
Astronomy Hour,
8 pm
Advanced Training
Hour, 9 pm
1
Tour of the Planetarium
Cowboy Astronomer
Discussion of
Semester Projects
2
Star Projector Operation
Circumpolar Constellations**;
Diurnal Star Clock
Telescope Operation
3
Star Projector Operation
Celestial Equator and Ecliptic;
Stone Circle Calendars
Telescope Operation
4
Star Projector Operation
Zodiac Constellations**
Messier Objects
5
Slide Projector Systems
Quadrant and Sextant;
Time Scales
Planning a Star Watch
6
Special Effects Systems
and Video Systems
Constellation Presentations:
Fall and Winter*
Advanced
Star Projector
7
Automation System:
Lamps and Slide Projectors
Constellation Presentations:
Spring and Summer*
Advanced Automation
8
Automation System:
Video and SFX
Starstruck Tonight
Star Watch I**
9
Audio System:
Rack, Mixer
Southern Skies**
Advanced Audio:
ADAT
10
Audio System:
Patch Bays
Using an Astrolabe
Advanced Audio:
Mics and Recording
11
Storyboarding
Shows in Progress
Script Writing Tips
12
Slide Production
Shows in Progress
Star Watch II**
13
Presentation Tips
Semester Projects I*
Show Support
14
Voyager II
Planetarium Software
Semester Projects II**
Voyager II
Planetarium Software

*Presented by first-semester students.
**Presented by second-semester students.


Course Requirements

  1.  
  2. FIRST SEMESTER:
    Students enrolled in the Planetarium Operations course for the first time will focus on the following priorities:
    •  
    • Night Sky Orientation
      Becoming familiar with the constellations and how the sky moves, to the degree necessary for presenting a seasonal sky tour.
      1. Use Raymo outdoors at least once each week as your tourguide to the real night sky. Get together and observe in small groups!
      2. At midsemester all students will present a five-minute constellation presentation to fellow students that involves at least one motion of the star projector.
      3. At the end of the semester, students will work together in several teams to produce semester projects, usually consisting of constellation presentations involving multimedia effects.

       

    • Basic Training in Planetarium Systems
      Introductory training in the various technologies involved in operating the planetarium, including the star projector, slide projection systems, special effects, automation and programming, photography, video and audio systems, and educational media.

     

  3. SECOND SEMESTER:
    Students enrolled in the Planetarium Operations course for the second time will focus on the following priorities:
    •  
    • Night Sky Observation
      Becoming more familiar with the constellations and the basic operation of a telescope.
      1. Continue to use Raymo outdoors at least once each week as your tourguide to the real night sky.
      2. In the early part of the semester all second-semester students will present two five-minute constellation presentations to fellow students.
      3. Twice during the semester, second-semester students will host a telescopic star party for first-semester students.
      4. At the end of the semester, students will present individual or small group semester projects, usually consisting of constellation presentations involving multimedia effects.

       

    • Advanced Training in Planetarium Systems
      Advanced training in the various technologies involved in operating the planetarium, as indicated in the tentative course schedule.

     

  4. Both first and second-semester students will assist in the presentation of at least one evening of Planetarium shows (ordinarily on a Friday night). See guidelines for assisting with shows. Students have the option of learning to present various types of shows, and some of the semester projects may be scheduled for a public show, if desired.

     

  5. Both first and second-semester students should obtain an email account and email your address to me at KVMagruder@aol.com. Please check your email roughly weekly.

     

  6. Program Production (Optional)
    • Students may help set-up and produce the planetarium's ongoing or pending shows. This production may require script writing, lesson-planning, multi-media preparation, creation of slides and special effects, computer programming, preparation of educational materials, photography, computer graphics, audio production, electronic and equipment set-up, etc. A second semester student might elect to design a project involving one or more of these tasks.
    • Whenever a show is presented, students will receive full credit for their work by having their names projected on the dome. All programs will require intensive student activity to complete their production.


Assessment

  1.  
  2. FIRST-SEMESTER STUDENTS:
     
    Worksheets, 40%
    Each Basic Training Hour will be structured around activity worksheets that guide students as they explore the technical systems as much as possible in a hands-on manner (often in small groups). Worksheets will be checked at the end of each training period. (The systems are more thoroughly explained in the technical pages of the Planetarium website. Students may print assigned pages beforehand for reference but are not expected to study them in full.)

     

    Skywatch journals, 20%
    Ten skywatch journals are required per semester. Turn them in one at a time as you complete them during the course. The weekly skywatch journal may take either of two forms:
    1. A record of one evening's skywatch in the outdoors under the real sky, on the basis of Raymo:
      • Record the date, time, and location at the top of the page.
      • Read the section in Raymo's 365 Starry Nights for the current date. Try to spot whatever Raymo mentions in the text. Record what you look for and indicate whether you see it.
      • List 5 constellations that are visible which you can identify, and never repeat the same set of 5. Try to identify at least one new constellation each week.
        • First week suggestion: Practice using the Big dipper as a skymark to find your way around. Print the Big Dipper web page and use it as your first skywatch journal.
        • When are constellations visible? This page indexes them month by month throughout the year.
      • Record the phase of the Moon if it is visible, and its location in the sky.
      • Record any visible planets and their location by constellation. A current planet chart is always posted on a planetarium bulletin board, or use the What's Up? web page.
      • Any other phenomena? Shooting stars, Milky Way, auroras (if you're lucky!), etc.
      • Will you vary your star-gazing times, or will you carry them out at the same time of night (or morning)?
      • Optional: Use binoculars, if you have them, to examine the surface of the Moon, a nebula, the Andromeda galaxy, or some other deep sky object.
    2. Cloudy-weather "indoor skywatch":
      • Browse the constellation pages of the Basic Celestial Phenomena website. Choose a constellation and print the page for reference.
      • Check to make sure all web-links are accurate (if any don't work, please indicate them on the printed copy).
      • Read the indicated pages in Raymo that describe the constellation.
      • Are there any additional features of this constellation, its deep-sky objects, or its skylore, that need to be added to the web page? If so, please write suggested revisions on the printed copy.
      • Are there NASA descriptions and photos of deep sky objects for this constellation we might add links to? If so, indicate the address for these links on the printed copy.
      • If the weather is clear and the constellation is visible from our latitude, please attempt to view the constellation and note the date and time you attempted to spot it.
      • Turn in the annotated printed copy as a substitute for the outdoor skywatch.

     

    Constellation Presentation, 20%
    One constellation presentation will be required of all first-semester students about midway through the semester, given in the Planetarium during the Astronomy Hour.

     

    Semester Project, 20%
    See course requirements, above, for a description of semester projects. Further ideas are suggested below.

     

  3. SECOND-SEMESTER STUDENTS:
     
    Worksheets, 20%
    Each Advanced Training Hour will be structured around activity worksheets that guide students as they work with advanced features of the technical systems in a hands-on manner (often in pairs or small groups). The systems are more thoroughly explained in the technical pages of the Planetarium website. Students should print assigned pages beforehand for reference but are not expected to study them in full. Worksheets will be checked at the end of each training period.

     

    Constellation Presentations, 20%
    Two constellation presentations will be required in the planetarium during the Astronomy Hour.

     

    Skywatch journals, 20%
    Ten skywatch journals are required per semester. Turn them in one at a time as you complete them during the course. See description above.

     

    Star Party Telescopic Presentations, 20%
    Two telescopic presentations will be required at the star parties hosted for the first-semester students.

     

    Semester Project, 20%
    See course requirements, above, for a description of semester projects.

     

    Contracts:
    For students with special interests and clear goals, alternative custom formats are available for the second semester. Talk with me before the end of the second week of the semester if you are interested in taking the course on a contract basis. Most contracts will involve a semester project of some type, approved in advance. Contracts can be written to concentrate exclusively on the project; for instance: developing proficiency with some of the technical systems (without participation in the Astronomy Hour); logging a certain number of telescopic observation hours (without participation in the Advanced Training Hour); or creating and producing a particular show or project in the planetarium, etc. Talk with me: the sky is the limit in your planetarium!

     

  4. NOTE WELL:
    •  
    • Erratic attendence may result in a failing grade.

       

    • How to fail this course suddenly:
      Extreme violations of Planetarium Procedures can result, at the Director's discretion, in expulsion from and/or a failing grade in the course.

       

    • Disabilities
      Any student in this class who has a disability should contact Bobby Canty in the Student Services Center, GC 101, as soon as possible to discuss possible accommodations.


Ideas for Semester Projects

Semester projects may be constellation presentations, enhanced by automated or manually-cued multimedia effects, or they may be more ambitious. Possible projects may be quite diverse, touching on many areas of interest:


Demand & Appeal of Course

The production of planetarium shows offers valuable experience to a wide variety of students, including those majoring in Telecommunication, Fine Arts, Graphic Arts, Music and Music Education. Education majors or pre-ministerial students may be attracted by opportunities for gaining pedagogical experience in live presentations (as well as experience dealing with educational media such as slide projectors). Students majoring in Language and Literature can express their talents through script-writing. Those with an interest in electronics or computers will find their technical skills much needed in production. Students who want to develop an amateur interest in astronomy will discover in this course a unique opportunity to become familiar with the nighttime sky (either prior to or supplementing US 320 Earth Sciences and US 311 Natural Sciences).


Necessity of Course for Planetarium Activity

A typical staff for a planetarium of our size and capabilities would number at least 4 full-time professionals with specialized training reflected in titles such as Director, Program Producer, Technical Engineer, Photographer, Musician, Director of Education, etc. The faculty staffing for the OBU Planetarium is one half-time Director-Professor. Through the Planetarium Operations course, the planetarium will gradually develop a corps of trained student workers to assist the Director in all aspects of program production and show presentation. Graduates of the course will be preferentially hired by the Planetarium on a work-study basis.


Current Projects of the OBU Planetarium

 

| Planetarium Home Page | Top | Description | Requirements | Materials | Assessment | Current Projects |
| Top |
©1997

Basic Celestial Phenomena
Constellations index
Planetarium
Basic Celestial Phenomena

Constellations

Not a Medieval Woodcut

Planetarium pages

Theories of the Earth

EarthVisions.net
Geology
History of Science

 

Page made with HyperNote and Claris Home Page 

Kerry Magruder, Planetarium Director, Home page or Email