Conference Descriptions: 2000-2009

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
36
Chicago, Illinois
2000
Jeanne Bishop
Bob Bonadurer
Spitz Lecturer: James Manning
Attendance: 138 + 10 vendors
Dates: October 11 - 14, 2000 2000 Group Photo

The first planetarium in the western hemisphere opened in 1930 as a gift to the City of Chicago by Sears and Roebuck executive Max Adler. The entire facility has recently undergone an extensive renovation and expansion and we were fortunate to have our 2000 conference at this historic facility.

The conference started out with the “touch of class” that would be its hallmark throughout. The opening Wednesday evening reception was held in Galileo’s Restaurant which can be nicely converted from a user-friendly cafeteria for the public to an elegant setting for catered banquets and parties. Almost all of the conference meals were held here, the Chicago skyline a constant background feature. Concurrent papers, workshops, shows and another year for vendor Q&A was a hallmark of the conference.

Thursday brought beautiful weather, which was unusually warm for Chicago and the time of year. The first full day of activities on Thursday began with a unique welcome from Adler president Paul Knappenberger, assisted by several of Adler’s staff. His presentation traced the history of the planetarium as an educational tool from Orrery to Star-Rider. The rest of the morning was given over to presentations about what’s new from a number of vendors.

Breaks were held amidst the vendor booths and displays in the History of Astronomy Gallery. This was an optimal place to have the breaks for it allowed easy access to the rest of the astronomy displays for those who wanted to wander and explore. Breaks were always long enough for members to view other exhibits or chat with vendors without feeling rushed for time or concerned that one might miss the next session.

Following an elegant lunch in Galileo’s Restaurant, it was time for the first of the four featured speakers. Dr. Evalyn Gates, Director of the Astronomy Department at Adler and a research cosmologist with the University of Chicago, brought us up to date on the search for all that unseen dark matter that really needs to exist if current theories about the origin and evolution of the universe are correct. The afternoon sessions were given over to papers by delegates and several innovative workshops. We even got a chance to critique a web site being developed by NASA’s Office of Space Science.

There was also a “Name that Star” quiz. The description said, “So you want to be a millionaire? Then this game is not for you. But, if you answer all these questions correctly, you’ll show us you can win a nice prize for the heap of astro-factoids inside of your head! Note there are no lifelines here, and we presume these are your final answers.”

It was fun to ride the special trolleys to Adler on Thursday and Friday mornings. Thursday night was free time, an opportunity to experience Chicago on our own or to participate in prearranged excursions to the Cernan Earth & Space Center at Triton College, the historic Dearborn Observatory on the campus of Northwestern University at nearby Evanston, or to the Doane Observatory adjacent to Adler Planetarium. The Dearborn trip proved to be something of an adventure. Due to a mix up, no one from the University showed up to meet our group. However, the observatory was actually open and we were at least able to see the beautifully restored and famed Clark refractor, used to discover the companion of Sirius.

Friday again broke with clear skies and warm temperatures. Friday would be multiple paper, poster, and workshop sessions. Among the workshops were Hands-on Cosmology and A Computer Animator’s Guide to the Galaxy, as well as a NASA website quiz to challenge the delegates. Throughout the day, there were also opportunities to sit in on Adler shows in both the Sky and Star Rider theaters. We could also compare the 1913 Atwood Sphere to a modern day STARLAB in “A Challenge in Observational Astronomy” The idea was to note the differences in the Atwood sky to a STARLAB sky. “Do the quiz—win a prize at the end of the conference.”

Following the noon luncheon, the annual astronomy update lecture was presented by Dr. Jim Kaler of the University of Illinois. Dr. Kaler always presents a well-informed and comprehensive review of the latest scientific findings from the past year. Everyone seems to enjoy the spectacular slides and images he includes with his lecture, as well as his great sense of humor which always comes out while he speaks. He is not only educational but most delightful to listen to.

Galileo’s Restaurant was a perfect setting for the banquet. The glass ceiling allowed those
of us who work under the stars the chance to come together and celebrate under the stars as well. There is no better view of the Chicago skyline than from the shores of Lake Michigan. When the meal was finished we moved to the Star Rider Theater for traditional banquet events and the Spitz lecture. James Manning was featured as the Armand Spitz Lecturer with “Seeing the Elephant: Planetariums at the Millennium.”

Saturday did not start out with clear skies, but the clouds lifted and turned into another beautiful day. The closing luncheon on Saturday was held at the Congress Plaza and featured a presentation by David Levy. David chose to speak on “From Generation to Generation: Astronomical Mentors I Have Known.”

A post conference trip took some of us to Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin for a tour of that famous facility.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
37
Richmond, Kentucky
(with SEPA)
2001
Jeanne Bishop
Bob Bonadurer
Spitz Lecturer: John Stoke
Attendance: 170
Dates: June 26 - 30, 2001 2001 Group Photo

It was off to Richmond, Kentucky June 26-30 for a joint conference with the Southeastern Planetarium Association (SEPA) hosted by Jack Fletcher. Not only was this conference different for GLPA delegates because of holding it in June, but it was longer, beginning on Tuesday evening and going until midday on Saturday.

I believe many of us found it quit exhilarating to be sharing with so many colleagues and being presented with so many choices of papers, workshops, and presentations. I counted 29 papers, 19 vendor presentations, 14 poster papers, 10 workshops, 1 concert and 2 speakers! Certainly many sessions were concurrent, but there was more than enough to pick from at every session.

The hotel was the very nice Best Western Holiday Plaza. For those interested, a pre-conference event was held at the University of Louisville’s new Rauch Planetarium which had recently opened with a Spitz Electric Sky system. Other “pre-conference people” attended a special “Explorers of Mauna Kea” workshop during the day on Tuesday, presented by the good folks from Hawaii’s Bishop Museum. I loved their shirts! The Tuesday evening opening reception was followed by a live space concert in the planetarium by a group called Spacecraft. What a way to start a conference!

Concurrent paper sessions were the order of the day throughout Wednesday. This was the day we first learned from GLPA Charter Member and former President Don Tuttle about his wonderful astronomy quilts. The quilts have astronomy themes and Don says they’re great at catching students’ attention. Just goes to show you that planetarians never really retire! With our brains stuffed to the point of exploding, it was time to relax and stuff our stomachs. A trip to the nearby Mule Barn for a southern style barbeque was just what we needed to end such a busy day.

It was back to concurrent paper sessions on Thursday. This time we were treated after lunch to GLPA’s own Jim Kaler with his annual Astronomy Update. I’m sure SEPA delegates were as impressed with Jim’s presentation as we always are. After another very intense day we boarded buses for an evening dinner and tour at Shaker Village, another interesting and relaxing end to the day.

After separate morning business meetings for the two organizations, Friday was workshops, STARLAB sessions, poster papers, and vendor presentations, oh my! We ended another busy day with a wonderful banquet dinner and the words of Spitz Lecturer John Stokes as he inspired us with “The Lost Tools of Learning and the Planetarium.”

Relaxation was the order of the day on Saturday during the breakfast buffet as delegates attended state meetings and participated in the GLPA traditional story telling. With door prizes and closing remarks from our host and the GLPA and SEPA presidents, we were on our way home, inspired and ready to tackle our privileged task of teaching the world about the universe once again.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
38
Menasha, Wisconsin
2002
Gary Sampson
Bob Bonadurer
Spitz Lecturer: Dale Smith
Attendance: 110
Dates: October 23 - 26, 2002 2002 Group Photo

For the 38th GLPA conference, we were off to Wisconsin for only the second time in 35 years. The Park Plaza Valley Inn and the Barlow Planetarium were our headquarters.

After the Wednesday night opening reception, delegates retired to the planetarium dome where Karen Klamczynski welcomed everyone. Demonstrations and a couple shows, including the Barlow Planetarium’s Halloween show, kept us entertained until it was time for the hospitality room.

Thursday morning was spent at the hotel with vendor presentations and of course the much looked-forward-to Astronomy Update by none other than Dr. Jim Kaler. After lunch it was off to the planetarium for a show, paper, and poster sessions along with some additional vendor sessions that required a dome. Delegates also got the chance to tour the Weis Earth Science Museum before everyone was set loose for dinner on their own.

As on Thursday, the Friday morning breakfast was among the vendors to allow everyone to see what was new for this year. Everyone spent the morning at the hotel for two paper sessions before we headed back to UW-Fox for lunch. Once again an “Ask the Vendor” panel session was included to allow delegates and vendors some mutual feedback. Another look at poster papers and some more vendor demonstrations in the dome and everyone headed back to the hotel to freshen up for the annual Spitz Banquet. The highlight of the evening was of course our own Dr. Dale Smith as he inspired us all in his Spitz lecture about the sacred space of our domes.

Our final day on Saturday was spent at the hotel with a full breakfast and state meetings to start with. Then Nagin Cox from NASA - JPL told us everything we ever wanted to know about “The Galileo Mission to Jupiter.” The end of a wonderful conference is always marked by door prizes, and this was no different as we had a little fun after lunch before we headed our separate ways. For those interested, there was also a post conference trip, “The Magical Fox Cities Tour” featuring limestone cliffs overlooking Lake Winnebago, Indian burial grounds, Harry Houdini, and more!

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
39
Cleveland, Ohio
2003
Gary Sampson
Bob Bonadurer
Spitz Lecturer: Rob Landis
Attendance: 113 + 22 vendors
Dates: October 22 - 25, 2003 2003 Group Photo

Our Cleveland conference began immediately with a thought-provoking talk by Br. Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory as he spoke about “God Under the Dome.” His main message was that there is no inherent conflict, and much commonality, between science and religion. He indicated, “How better to get to know the Creator than by studying the things that have been created?” The talk was followed by a dessert reception as delegates renewed their acquaintances after yet another year.

Thursday was on to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the new Shafran Planetarium. We were split into two groups and rotated through paper sessions, vendor demonstrations and eventually lunch. The morning also included a workshop, “Constellations by Touch” by David Hurd. This system continued after lunch with an additional option of a “Portable Planetarium Share-a-Thon” where people could share portable dome techniques. Ending with tours of the museum and observatory, we were all together for dinner and a fascinating talk by Dr. Paul Hodge from the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington. Dr. Hodge spoke about his book “Higher than Everest, An Adventurer’s Guide to the Solar System.” The next order of business was an optional bus ride to Shaker Heights High School Planetarium with Gene Zajac hosting, to round out the evening.

Spouses and other guests had the option Thursday of a special trip to the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame while conference delegates were at the museum.

We were down to business again on Friday at the hotel. Delegates could take advantage of papers, posters, visiting vendors, and a “Transit of Venus 2004” workshop by Chuck Bueter. A relaxing lunch was followed by Dr. Jim Kaler’s Astronomy Update, an annual favorite. The afternoon included more great papers plus once again an “Ask the Vendors” panel session. One of the neatest parts of the afternoon was the Shaker Space Station Simulation Bus, a converted school bus set up as a working space station by Joe Marencik & Gene Zajac. The idea is to allow students to get a feel for what it might be like to do scientific experiments aboard a space station. The annual Spitz Banquet ended a wonderfully informative day with Rob Landis delivering the Spitz lecture. Rob gave us some historical perspective with “Footsteps to Wings to Spacefaring.”

Saturday found us at the hotel for breakfast and state meetings. After the annual GLPA business meeting we had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Lawrence Krauss from the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University. Dark matter was the theme as he spoke about “Einstein’s Biggest Blunder.” Once again our visit to Cleveland was really “CRAP.”

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
40
Detroit, Michigan
2004
Joe Derocher
Mary Schindewolf
Spitz Lecturer: April Whitt
Attendance: 113 + 34 vendors
Dates: October 20 - 23, 2004 2004 Group Photo

A busy conference awaited us for our 40th annual get together in Detroit with a large number of scheduled papers, workshops, and vendor demonstrations.

We were immediately whisked away to the Cranbrook Institute of Science for Wednesday evening’s events. In addition to the hors d’oeuvres reception there were numerous vendor demos in the dome and opportunities to explore the museum and observatory. A great start to the conference!

Busses were the name of the game at this conference as Thursday morning we were transported to the new Detroit Science Center for a morning of touring, vendor demos, and a peek at their new show “Blown Away.” Then it was back to the buses! Not wanting to waste any time, we were provided with “in-flight meals” (box lunches) on our voyage to Ann Arbor. Once there we scattered to see the Exhibit Museum of Natural History with its very busy planetarium, the historic Detroit Observatory, and the Argus Planetarium at Pioneer High School that has the distinction of being the first school planetarium in the United States. By 6 p.m. we once again gathered as a group for dinner at the University of Michigan Palmer Commons. It was time to refuel and hear Dr. Fred Adams, a UM astrophysicist, and his talk, “Into the Dark: The Long Term Fate of our Dying Universe.” Then back to the busses and our “flight” to the hotel. Whew!

We caught our breath Friday morning at the Somerset Inn. A number of great workshops were available as well as papers and posters to see and hear. This also was a good time to visit the vendor area and see what was new. We relaxed during a pizza lunch buffet as we anticipated Dr. Jim Kaler’s Astronomy Update after lunch. Wonderful as usual! The rest of the afternoon was leisurely as we had some vendor time and time for the portable planetarium sessions. Then, to the busses one more time! After additional presentations in the planetarium at the Detroit Science Center it was time for the annual GLPA banquet with our own April Whit as this year’s Spitz Lecturer. “There’s No Place Like Dome” was her inspiration to us.

Saturday at the hotel was set aside for state meetings, the annual GLPA business meeting, story time, door prizes, and farewell for another year. It was time to go home, rest, and digest all the good stuff!

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
41
Grand Rapids, Michigan
2005
Joe Derocher
David Hurd
Spitz Lecturer: Dave DeBruyn
Attendance: 119 + 25 vendors + 4 speakers/guests
Dates: October 19 - 22, 2005 2005 Group Photo

Once again we met at the Chaffee Planetarium in Grand Rapids on a major anniversary of GLPA. This time the 40th anniversary and 41st annual conference. Delegates were fortunate that three founding “fathers” of the organization were in attendance to offer some historical perspective.

As everyone gathered Wednesday night for the traditional opening reception, we were able to immediately take in a couple Chaffee shows, explore the museum, or even hear the Wurlitzer organ. Then it was under the dome for vendor demonstrations to see what’s new this year.

All events for this conference took place at the Public Museum. With the Day’s Inn right next door, it made for a very relaxed several days. On Thursday we continued with vendor showcases throughout the morning and then relaxed with a pizza lunch buffet followed by the conference keynote speaker, Dr. Anne Kinney from NASA. Dr. Kinney fascinated us with “From Blue Planets to Black Holes.”

The afternoon brought a very unique panel discussion with the theme “Building a More Space Aware Society.” The panel was moderated by Von Del Chamberlain (a GLPA founder) and included Dr. Kinney, Dr. Dennis Sunal (a GLPA founder), John Stoke (Space Telescope Science Institute) and planetarian Sheldon Schaffer. The day ended with a variety of options for delegates. Options included dinner on your own followed by either attending a public presentation of Dr. Kinney’s earlier talk, exploring the museum’s galleries, attending a constellation shootout in the dome, carpooling to a nearby IMAX theater to see “Magnificent Desolation,” driving out to visit the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association’s Veen Observatory, or checking out “The Wall” laser show.

Friday morning brought us up-to-date with astronomy once again as Dr. Jim Kaler told us everything we ever wanted to know about what was going on. It was then time to get down to business with concurrent workshops and paper sessions for the rest of the day. The annual evening Spitz banquet was held in the museum’s Galleria, right under the whale skeleton. (I assume they check those wires holding it up once in a while!) Because of the acoustics of the Galleria, we went up to the Meijer Theater after dinner to hear our own Dave Debruyn (a founding member) deliver this year’s Spitz Lecture. Dave reminded us of how we inspire many people with our work, maybe without realizing it all the time.

On Saturday, after breakfast and state meetings, we had one more paper session before the GLPA business meeting. After lunch, and before the door prizes and our farewells, we were treated to a special 40th anniversary retrospective hosted by Gary Tomlinson. We heard from the three founding members in attendance. Von Del Chamberlain talked to us about “The Power of the Planetarium Theater.” Dennis Sunal instructed us on “An Early History of the School Projection Planetarium and the Great Lakes Planetarium Association.” Dave Debruyn joined in at the end as our founders received a warm round of applause.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
42
Merrillville, Indiana
2006
Bob Bonadurer
David Hurd
Spitz Lecturer: Gene Zajac
Attendance: 121 + 19 vendors + 6 speakers/guests
Dates: October 25 - 28, 2006 2006 Group Photo

In 2006 we were back to Merrillville to see what Greg and Barb had been up to. We slept at the Lee’s Inn, but the rest of the time we remained at Pierce Middle School.

Wednesday evening’s dessert reception was followed by being divided into two groups so that we could rotate through several presentations without over filling the planetarium. At the end of the evening we ended up in the “Arena,” a large lecture-type room that could accommodate all the delegates. Dr. Clem Pryke from the University of Chicago Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics started us out with “The History of the Universe and the Return of Einstein’s Biggest Blunder.”

It was right down to business Thursday morning with the first paper session in the Arena followed by our split group rotation again to accommodate the size of the planetarium. After a break for lunch it was back to the rotation with vendor presentations, followed by a paper session and then workshops in various rooms. We were fortunate that this was a school break and we had the use of the building without interfering with regular classes. Thursday night allowed delegates several options. You could pick from a trip to the Challenger Learning Center; a tour of Valparaiso University, including a small planetarium and observatory; see a performance of the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra; or stick around and watch several shows in the planetarium.

Friday was dominated by many wonderful papers, with the highlight for many being our own Jim Kaler detailing the latest in his annual Astronomy Update. This year the annual Spitz Banquet was held not at Pierce School, and not at the Lee’s Inn, but at Gamba Ristorante, a new dining establishment in Merrillville. This year Gene Zajac delivered the Spitz Lecture and reminded us how important it is for us to be “Making a Difference.”

After breakfast at the hotel it was time on Saturday to head back for state meetings and the annual GLPA business meeting. One more lunch in the Pierce cafeteria. This time it is Chinese chicken salad, mandarin oranges, a fortune cookie and sherbet. Neat, huh? Now that we were relaxed we could enjoy the last speaker of the conference, Scott G. Lever. Scott is the MER Tactical Uplink Lead Engineer at JPL and he showed us some really great images while telling about the ins and outs of working with the Mars rovers. His talk was titled, “Roaming Mars: A Personal Perspective.”

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
43
Wheeling, West Virginia
(with MAPS and SEPA)
2007
Bob Bonadurer
David Hurd
Spitz Lecturer: Jim Sweitzer
Attendance: 247 + 47 vendors + 4 speakers/guests
Dates: October 9 - 13, 2007 2007 Group Photo

This was the Triple Conjunction Conference where GLPA, SEPA and MAPS were in a rare conjunction in Wheeling, West Virginia. It also meant a lot of delegates!

This was also a longer conference, the opening reception being on a Tuesday. Notable Tuesday evening was Jon Bell’s “Astropardy” contest. Astropardy is based on the popular Jeopardy game show. However, in Astropardy all of the questions are astronomy related. This supposedly was a regional contest, with bragging rights going to the winning region. I haven’t heard anyone brag though. Does anyone know which region won? If you do let me know!

After opening remarks Wednesday morning we went right into concurrent paper sessions. Lunch was in Oglebay’s Glessner Auditorium where after lunch we heard Dr. Charles Wood, Executive Director of the Center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit University. Dr. Wood’s talk was “Exploring a New World: Titan as Revealed by Cassini’s Radar.” All delegates were split into groups A and B and the rest of the afternoon was for planetarium vendor sessions, portable dome workshops, or some time on your own. Dinner was also on your own, but you had to get back to Glessner Auditorium for the keynote speaker – David Levy “A Nightwatchman’s Journey: My Life and Hard Times as a Comet Hunter.”

More concurrent paper sessions Thursday morning and then it was off to the busses and the Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Science Center, Buhl Digital Dome and host James Hughes. We were again split into our two groups to take turns exploring the science center and visiting the planetarium. As evening approached it was back to the busses to run over to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to have dinner and explore. There in the Carnegie Lecture Hall after dinner we were once more honored to hear the Astronomy Update presented by Dr. Jim Kaler, GLPA’s beloved resident astronomer.

Friday morning it was back down to business with concurrent workshops and paper sessions. Following lunch in the Glessner Auditorium we were again in our A and B groups for planetarium vendor sessions or on your own to explore the beauty of Oglebay Park. Evening brought the banquet. This year’s Armand N. Spitz Lecture, Margaret Noble Address, and SEPA Banquet Lecture was given by Dr. James Sweitzer from Science Communications Consultants. It was titled “A Journey to the Stars.”

Saturday was set aside for regional business meetings before we all went our separate ways. If you wanted to hang around a little longer you could participate in a couple post conference activities. Jon Bell had a “Constellation Shootout” in the Benedum Planetarium, which was then followed by a couple encore planetarium productions.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
44
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2008
Cheri Adams
David Hurd
Spitz Lecturer: Dan Francetic
Attendance: 102 + 32 vendors + 3 speakers/guests
Dates: October 29 - November 1, 2008 2008 Group Photo

We’re back to the city of suds! Upon arrival we were immediately whisked by bus to a great opening reception at the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium. After eating our fill we spent the evening in the planetarium being amazed by vendor demonstrations.

Thursday morning we were at the Country Springs Hotel for the official welcome, vendor presentations, and the first paper session. Then it was off to Wauwatosa West High School and the Gary E. Sampson Planetarium for more vendor presentations. Lunch at the high school was followed by workshop sessions. Then, on to the Retzer Nature Center and the Charles Horwitz Planetarium. After dinner there were additional vendor presentations in the planetarium.

Friday was at the hotel in Waukesha. Morning paper sessions ended with Dr. Jim Kaler’s 20th and his announced last Astronomy Update lecture just prior to lunch. The afternoon continued with paper sessions along with workshops. The evening banquet featured Dan Francetic as the Spitz lecturer. His talk was titled “The Planetarium of My Remembrance—A Personal Account.” Space-related costumes were optional for the banquet and of course some chose to dress in costume. One of the best was the Saturday’s speaker, Michelle Thaller, dressed as a Klingon!

After one last paper session on Saturday we heard Dr. Michelle Thaller, Manager of the Spitzer Space Telescope Education and Public Outreach Program, talk about “Infrared Astronomy: Things That Go Bump in the Night.” Michelle had an infrared camera with her for some fun and demonstrations. It also just so happens that Dr. Thaller graduated from Waukesha South High School, so this was also a sort of homecoming for her. There was an afternoon post-conference session that some attended at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Manfred Olsen Planetarium hosted by Dr. Jean Creighton. Jean did a presentation titled “Greek Myths in Stars.” Her husband, Dr. Jolien Creighton, also from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Physics Department, talked about “Listening for Black Holes.” Delegates also had the opportunity to tour the supercomputer facilities at the UW-M Physics Department.

 

NO.
LOCATION
YEAR
PRESIDENT
SECRETARY/TREASURER
45
Bay City, Michigan
2009
Cheri Adams
David Hurd
Spitz Lecturer: Ken Miller
Attendance: 106 + 38 vendors + 5 speakers/guests
Dates: October 21 - 24, 2009 2009 Group Photo

The Bay City conference was certainly one of convenience. The Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center is situated right across the street from the Delta College Planetarium. Everything was either at the hotel or the planetarium, so delegates had a relaxed time this year with access to their rooms always available.

The Wednesday evening reception was in the large, curved lobby of the planetarium. While delegates where eating and socializing, they could walk into the adjacent Space Explorer’s Hall and take in the demonstrations of “Dr. Slime,” one of the resident “mad scientists” at Delta College. It was then into the planetarium for what is becoming the traditional Wednesday night vendor showcase. Something new this year were “quick stretch and break” times. These were short 15 minute breaks to avoid sitting too long during vendor presentations. Delegates were told that Conference Planning Chair Gary Tomlinson said that these short breaks wouldn’t work, that delegates would not get back that fast. So, everyone was asked to prove Gary wrong . . . and it worked!

After the traditional Thursday morning welcome it was back to all the great vendor demos. Everyone was hungry after seeing what’s new all morning and headed off to the hotel for lunch. Lunch was followed by Dr. Axel Mellinger from the Department of Physics at Central Michigan University. Dr. Mellinger talked about “A 648 Mpixel Panorama Image of the Entire Sky.” The afternoon was workshop time and there were many to pick from. Excellent workshops have become a hallmark of GLPA conferences. You can’t help but be impressed by the amount of education stressed in this organization. Nowhere else will you see a workshop dedicated to hands on astronomy demonstrations, something all kids seem to really get and appreciate. Also, the friendliness of every member just really makes everyone feel at home.

After dinner it was back to the planetarium for papers, vendors, and a show or two from the planetarium staff. Unique here was a paper presented by Jacob Larsen, a local high school student. Jacob had been mentored for several years by the Delta College Planetarium staff and had created a scale model solar system with signs, stretching between Bay City and Midland, Michigan, much like what Sheldon Schaffer has done in Peoria. Jacob’s paper was about his latest project, a national scale model solar system stretching from Florida to Bay City. Jacob personally visited each planetarium and science center that were hosting his planet “signs” across the country!

Friday was a full day of excellent paper presentations. The most important part of GLPA is the sharing of ideas and techniques by members. We took a break just before lunch to hear our own Dr. Ronald Kaitchuck from the Ball State University Planetarium, as he presented his first Astronomy Update which he titled, “Astronomy for the Planetarian, 2009.” After all these years, Dr. Jim Kaler would be a hard act to follow, but Ron did it in style! Of course the annual evening Spitz banquet provided an opportunity to relax together and enjoy awards and the Spitz Lecture. This year Ken Miller inspired us with “Lessons Learned in the Dark.”

Still more papers were to be presented Saturday morning. It’s great how many members participate by presenting to their peers. It was impressive how everything was kept on track during this conference—the talks and the planetarium shows weren’t stretched out, as happens so often. When the papers concluded and everyone had a break, delegates heard from Dr. Christian Marois a Research Associate at the NRC Canada Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Canada. Dr. Marois’ talk was “Taking Pictures (and Movies!) of Exoplanets Orbiting Other Stars.” His research team was one of the first to actually photograph exoplanets. Delegates ended the day with the annual business meeting, door prizes, and a little more socializing. Those who were interested could head off to Longway Planetarium in Flint for an optional tour of that near-by facility.