Speaker: Von Del Chamberlain

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Von Del Chamberlain, Principal GLPA Founder

Von Del Chamberlain's dedication to planetariums and to professional collegiality first led to the formation of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and a few years later to what is now the International Planetarium Society. He is a true living legend and one of the most respected of planetarium professionals.

From 1960 to 1964, Von Del was staff astronomer at Longway Planetarium in Flint. He was at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University from 1964 to 1973, first as staff astronomer and then as director. While there, he hosted the meeting of Midwest planetarium specialists that led to the formation of GLPA, and initiated a Master of Arts degree for teachers in planetarium education.

Von Del went on to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for a decade, where he served in various capacities. In 1984, he returned to his native Utah as director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, a post he held until retirement in 1996. Von Del has long been an advocate for “sky interpretation” in national parks and has lectured widely in outdoor settings, on cruise ships, and elsewhere. He is known for his research on Native American ethno-astronomy, and is, among many other writings, author of the book “When Stars Came Down to Earth: Cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America.”

Reflecting back on a long life filled with inspiring moments, Von Del stated that he is trained as a scientist, has the experience of an educator and administrator, thinks of himself as an interpreter of the sky, and has the heart of a naturalist. The more he learns about the vast universe, the more deeply he loves the Earth, this vanishingly small speck we ride upon as we explore the cosmos while each day unfolds the wonders of our lives.

ABSTRACT: Gathered in celebration of our 50 years together, we consider how the Great Lakes Planetarium Association came into existence, what it has become, and its potential under the charge of its members.