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Spaced-Out Experience

Shineman Planetarium offers an out-of-this-world educational journey

By Lou Sorendo

planetarium3… 2 … 1 … Liftoff!

Who said attending college must be a stuffy and dry experience?

The Shineman Planetarium on the SUNY Oswego campus offers the college population and general public the opportunity to disconnect from earth and explore the wonders of the universe.

Students, faculty and community members have the opportunity to visit the planetarium on the second floor of the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

The planetarium holds shows at 7 p.m. every Sunday from September through June. The shows regularly come close to filling the 30 seats available and occasionally reach maximum capacity of 49.

The physics department operates the Spitz digital planetarium with a 24-foot projection dome that has a 180-degree field of view and a built-in surround sound system.

The projector includes an 8-inch digital fisheye lens connected to a computer system.

The planetarium opened in 2013 with the rest of the Shineman Center.

Scott Roby, associate professor in the physics department and planetarium director, said the planetarium is an immersive environment, “so we have the advantage of not only being educational, but also entertaining.

“The entertainment factor gets the audience engaged, then we can teach them about the nature of astronomy, different objects in astronomy, and keep them up to date on the latest discoveries and news.”

Images provided by the Shineman Planetarium.
Images provided by the Shineman Planetarium.

The system allows operators to pick, choose and modify thousands of objects in the sky, as well as predict and preview future events.

With the college’s former planetarium, onlookers could only see the sky from the earth. With the new system, the sky can be shown from anywhere, Roby noted.

“We can fly from the earth out to the local universe filled with 80,000 galaxies, and then fly back,” he said.

The planetarium is a natural for astronomy classes, but biology, geology, chemistry and philosophy classes have also used the facility for classes.

Shows are recommended for children aged 4 and older. An adult must accompany children under 17. No food or drink is permitted in the facility.

Parking is free in the commuter lot off Washington Boulevard and the employee lot off Centennial Boulevard across from the Shineman Center.

“I may tell them 20 things, and hopefully they remember five or six cool things,” said Roby, noting the exciting and fun environment makes for a terrific learning environment.

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