Planetarium presents Halloween-themed show

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 at 7:04 PM

Visitors in Cooper Hall learned some spooky facts about Edinboro’s location and beyond during an annual Halloween program conducted by faculty and students. This program, called “Legends, Myths and Spooks,” took place on Halloween from 7-8 p.m.

“Darkness. Light. Our Universe,” said Jacob Silas, a student planetarium assistant, beginning the event.

Topics such as stars, galaxies, Edinboro’s night sky and of course planets were thrown into the mix.

Galaxies were the first topic, and comparison between ours and those smaller and larger were made. The potential for them “eating” each other, or eventually taking over their forms and energy, was also discussed.

For example, Silas shared that our Milky Way Galaxy is expected to be taken over by the Andromeda Galaxy within the next 5 billion years.

The audience then got to see pictures of nebulae such as the Tarantula, Witch Head and more. It was difficult for viewers to recognize some of the implied figures, such as the Owl Nebula, but the 2015 asteroid TB145, which was perceived to look like a skull, was more distinguishable. 

Following this, Dr. David Hurd, who dressed as a wizard, quickly took over and directed the audience toward the night sky over Edinboro, with the now 50-year-old star projector that is capable of showing over 6,000 stars. 

Several constellations and their stories were described, such as The Big Dipper, The Great Square of Pegasus, Orion and Sagittarius.

Pictures of pumpkin-shaped celestial bodies or oblate spheroids were shown, alongside a particularly interesting picture showing our sun from Oct. 2014 with flares that resembled a Jack-O’-Lantern face.

While viewing the stars, onlookers were encouraged to note planets Mars, Venus and Jupiter, and that the next full moon for Halloween is expected in 2020.

Two light shows, featuring the hits “The Purple People Eater” and “Ghostbusters,” were presented at the end. Hurd then offered the chance for attendees to visit the museum as the observatory visit was avoided due to weather conditions.

One student who attended, Lindsey Baker, a junior, found the program to be entertaining and educational. “I thought it was a really good show,” said Baker. Although business is her major, she says she does admire science. 

Members of the Cooper Hall Ambassadors of Science (CHAOS) assisted, and one of them, Joshua Carpeno, a geography major who has been involved since the Fall 2015 semester, enjoys the experiences included, especially ones like this.

Hurd and Silas were especially pleased, as each saw and heard crowd satisfaction. “Our programs are geared for families,” said Hurd, and the staff tries to “address significant and timely astronomical events.” 

Silas agrees with Carpeno, that sharing knowledge is both a good task and feeling, and regardless of what time of year it is, he tries to be more informative than scary, implying humanity’s fear of the unknown. “When people are uninformed, the unknown is scary,” he said. 

An upcoming planetarium event focusing on meteorites, called “The Sky is Falling,” will take place on Nov. 13 from 7-9 p.m. with Scott McKenzie, a geology professor from Mercyhurst University. 

Amber Chisholm can be reached at

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