Planetarium: Our Digital Trip Through the Universe

By Alison and Kayla, Phase I Scholars

During the 2019 Summer Study DO-IT program, we had the unique experience of going to the UW planetarium. When we arrived, we were escorted to a large circular room with a long bench along the outside. The room was dimly lit and set the mood for exploring outer space. Several projectors around the room projected images on the domed ceiling, displaying the entire night sky.

In the presentation, we learned about our solar system and the individual planets within it. We even went beyond our solar system, and at the end of our presentation, we zoomed out to where we could get a view of the whole known universe. The technology enabled us to zoom through the sky and make it appear as though the stars were coming towards us. We even flew through Jupiter and saw all its moons. Our presenter was an astronomy student who was very passionate and great at making astronomy more accessible to the average person. Instead of using complex scientific words that we might not understand, he clearly explained each new term and welcomed any questions we had. One of the most interesting facts that we learned was that there may be different forms of life on planets or moons that do not require water to sustain them. The presenter explained that although scientists have a vast knowledge of outer space, they are far from knowing everything. He emphasized the importance of research and the continuous study of our galaxy.

This was one of our favorite sessions. The experience zooming through the stars and planets is unlike anything we have been able to experience, even in school. The visual sensation was like flying through space, and it felt like you were really there. We all came out of the planetarium more educated and informed about intergalactic sciences. Everyone was able to learn something, it was a comfortable learning atmosphere, and the technology paired with an engaging speaker made it a mind-blowing experience.