GLPA Conference Proceedings: 2020

Proceedings Editor:  Dale W. Smith, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.
GLPA Members:  You can download these Proceedings using the following link. Note that you must be logged in to download the PDF file.
*** 2020 Proceedings PDF ***
Click on the title of each paper/poster/workshop below for a PDF offprint of that individual paper/poster/workshop.
Non-members:  You can order a PDF of this Proceedings ($3) through the online store.
Below are the titles and abstracts for the Invited Speakers, Contributed Papers, Workshops, and Posters presented during the 2020 GLPA Conference. Click on any title to read or download that PDF offprint.
Invited Speakers
Shannon Schmoll
Abstract: The year 2020 has been one that profoundly affected everyone at so many levels. It has shown us and the public science happening in real time. This reminds us that our job as science educators is to communicate the process, however messy, to the public. The stories presented this year focus on how science is dynamic and always striving to make our understanding clearer. Stories include that of the great dimming of Betelgeuse, an impossible black hole, misaligned planetary disks, a new hypothesis for Uranus’s strange tilt, and plenty of comets to go around.
Contributed Papers
Abstract: A common question planetarians get asked when virtually traveling through the Universe is whether what is being presented is ‘real’. Scientific Visualization tools that include spatio-temporal navigation present adjusted versions of reality that allow us to comprehend planetary, galactic, and cosmic realms seamlessly. In turn, our existence on Earth predisposes each of us to bring our planetary experiences as kinds of biases to the cosmic data we seek to understand. This paper will offer approaches and strategies to maintain, reconnect, and establish new connections between our direct experiences and the scientific visualization techniques through which we explore the Universe.
Abstract: We have all been hitchhiking a new path in the galaxy. This paper focuses in on some virtual methods that have been successful here at the Soref Planetarium in Milwaukee. Topping our list is the one-minute virtual video.
Abstract: To address the needs of house-bound families last spring, I developed a series of programs about how we know the physical properties of stars. The series “Stars Have Stories” was intended to interest a wide range of audiences. In this paper, I highlight aspects of the series that I hope will be useful to you.
Richard Gorby, Alec Neal, Nicolette Terracciano, Caleb Whitcomb
Abstract: Hear from a close-knit group of Ball State students, who are used to working together on anything from homework assignments to research, about how they bring this experience to enrich our planetarium’s weekly virtual event.
Anna Green, Jackie Baughman, Mike Smail
Abstract: As planetarians we all love our jobs – sometimes to the point of giving more of ourselves to our domes than we have to give. Burnout caused by understaffing, a toxic work environment, the desire to take part in everything available at a conference, or a pandemic that is causing uncertainty for planetarians worldwide at work and home; most of us may find ourselves in a similar situation at some point in our careers. This paper will provide different ways to work towards better mental (and physical) health in these situations, and also how to support staff and coworkers who may be struggling.
Abstract: While the California Academy of Sciences has been closed for over six months, the planetarium team found various ways to adapt programming to an online environment. In addition to weekly planetarium programs covering Pre-K, Solar System, and night sky topics, the Morrison team began a weekly “expert talk”. Each week features a guest from outside the Academy, or an internal expert, to discuss their research or topics related to astronomy and planetariums. In this paper I will explore how the Morrison Team created this series, including who we reached out to and why, software we’ve used, and various logistical elements.
Abstract: As a part of an independent study at Ball State, I am working to present nationwide planetarium statistics by state or U.S. territory in an ArcGIS StoryMap. Learn about the project and my journey with digital storytelling during my paper presentation.
Abstract: Big Astronomy is a multifaceted project, funded by the National Science Foundation. By now, you are likely familiar with the bilingual planetarium film that has been released for free or very low cost, and is showing in theaters and virtually worldwide. But are you aware of the associated educational products freely available? Big Astronomy live events on social media can connect your audiences directly to STEM professionals working in remote observatories. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has created toolkits of hands-on activities for use in museums and by amateur astronomers. Learn more about these show enhancements and how to become involved.
Sarah Komperud, Emma Allen, Sally Brummel, Heather Cummins, Thaddeus LaCoursiere
Abstract: The Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium is committed to creating an inclusive and accessible environment for everyone. We have worked with experts from other Minnesota cultural organizations and within the disability community to offer accommodations and programs for our visitors. Our efforts to make the planetarium inclusive and accessible include American Sign Language interpretation, Assistive Listening Devices, audio described programs, live captioning, sensory friendly programs, and size- inclusive seating. The Bell Museum is part of the Minnesota Access Alliance, which is raising the bar for accessibility across the culture and arts sectors in Minnesota.
Abstract: Versant Power Astronomy Center (formerly known as Emera Astronomy Center) normally conducts telescopic stargazing following our Friday night public programs and has university astronomy labs other evenings throughout the academic year. With COVID, we are not able to open our observatory, but we have utilized the IPS-SLOOH Partnership to create an online astronomy club and offer virtual star parties on Friday evenings since early July. In this paper I will share some of the lessons learned in our first few months, tips on utilizing it for undergraduate astronomy labs, and challenges we have encountered along the way.
Dani LeBlanc, Shannon Schmoll, Dayna Thompson
Abstract: The International Planetarium Community’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee works to develop a culture and climate throughout its activities where all community members experience a sense of belonging and engagement. In order to move us towards this goal, we need to understand the current climate and culture within the IPS. Therefore, a climate survey was created to help us understand people’s experiences within the community. The results of this survey will guide the Committee’s and IPS organization’s work towards inclusive excellence moving forward. Learn about how the survey was developed, how it will be used, and how you can contribute to our community by taking the survey.
Abstract: Abrams Planetarium collaborated with a faculty member in the MSU Lyman Briggs college for a course on race and gender in science for two semesters. In the course, students had to create inclusive exhibits for our lobby. Modest funds were provided to create the exhibits. Exhibit design was done throughout the semester and addressed what students learned in class. The planetarium provided feedback of our needs, exhibit design, and content on women and people of color in STEM. A study was conducted with the students in the second semester which showed positive impacts on their STEM identities.
Abstract: Over two years the Abrams Planetarium and Wharton Center for the Performing Arts collaborated with storyteller LuAnn Adams to create a live performance for children. The show featured stories related to the sky along with original pieces. It was performed 11 times over a week utilizing dome visualizations to complement Ms. Adams’ performance. The Wharton Center provided creative input, logistics, and financial backing. Luann provided the performance and choice of stories. The Abrams Planetarium provided the programming and behind the scenes work. Visuals were made using Digistar 6 and are available for anyone who would like to book the show.
Abstract: Questions are arguably the most powerful tool we, as planetarians, have to engage with and educate our audiences. We often use questions in a variety of ways: to set expectations, gauge interest, and determine pre-conceptions, among other things. Questions are at the core of an interactive planetarium presentation and are often used to engage the audience. However, those questions can also be an effective way of teaching and helping our audiences retain more of what we do with them in the limited time we have. In this presentation, I will share what I learned from my doctoral research on formative assessment in planetarium presentation recordings and where to go from here.
Abstract: Earlier this year, the Adler Planetarium re-acquired its original Zeiss planetarium projector, the first one in the Western Hemisphere. After its de-installation in 1970, the Adler’s Zeiss Mark II/III criss-crossed America multiple times, before falling completely out of the public eye for the last 30 years. Where did it go? How did we track it down? And what is its future? I’ll answer all those questions, and more, in this paper.
Dale W. Smith
Abstract: I am teaching my classes in the Planetarium using BGSU’s hybrid mode combining a mixture of face-to-face and on-line elements. I will describe how these classes operate, contrast them with traditional formats, and explain my reasons for using this mode.
Abstract: The Dome Dialogue e-conferences promoted the benefits of keeping online planetarium shows interactive. Most of the tips for how to keep them interactive were for those with multiple planetarium employees. Haile Planetarium only has one full-time employee, and was not able to keep their part-time employees during the closure, so it seemed impossible to do interactive shows or star parties virtually. However, Haile Planetarium figured out how to do interactive virtual star parties. Their solution works for them, so Haile Planetarium will continue doing these virtual star parties until in-person outreach starts again.
Abstract: I report on the introduction of spreadsheet based computational activities to a general education astronomy course and the results of this curriculum modification. Computation is an important tool in developing understanding of concepts and connecting science with prediction. Computation also introduces an active learning element. The computational exercises were implemented coincident with the presentation of associated topics. I reflect on the transition process and report on factors that led to the adoption of computational activities, factors that supported the change, and barriers faced while implementing this change. Surveys were used to investigate students’ learning, attitudes, and perceptions of the course.
Karrie Berglund, Paulette Epstein, Mark Webb
Abstract: In this 90-minute LIPS-style workshop, we explored three major aspects of building a team of live, interactive planetarium program presenters: finding presenters (hiring), getting new presenters started (training), and fine-tuning presenters’ performances (evaluating).
Abstract: Planetariums can serve as classrooms, theaters, and concert halls all at the same time; however, combining lecture, visuals, and music can be a lot to orchestrate. This narrative discusses three student-developed planetarium shows that combine lecture and music for educational and entertaining audience experiences. The first, Holst’s The Planets: a combination of solar system tour, mythology, and live violin performance. The second, Vivaldi’s Seasonal Skies: a survey of the seasonal landscapes of Vivaldi’s music along with constellation myths. The third, Carnival of the Animals: a playful exploration of animal constellations, the music of Saint-Saëns, and whimsical poetry.
Autumn Grosz, Bridgett Grosz, Megan Kucera, Aubrie Vivant, Sara Schultz
Abstract: This semester at Minnesota State University Moorhead Planetarium, four students have created multi-part web series, or webisodes, on four distinctly different topics. Senior Megan Kucera will be presenting Out-Of-This-World Crafts, an exploration of crafts you can do at home with a special space theme. Freshman Autumn Grosz’s program, “Stellar Stories” covers stars as they are used in various genres of literature. Sophomore Bridgett Grosz will be discussing planetary volcanology in her program, “Volcanoes in our Solar System”. Freshman Aubrie Vivant will be presenting “Creatures and Cosmos”, a celebration of the biodiversity in Earth’s animal kingdom and their celestial counterparts.
Dale W. Smith
Abstract: Some shows at the BGSU Planetarium are now double-features with back-to-back runs of two shows. Although we are part of a university, we are a standalone facility in that visitors do not have other stops to make when they attend us, unlike in a museum or science center. Thus we do not want to make the visitor experience too brief, a consideration since many full-dome shows are shorter than traditional slide-based shows were.
Abstract: For generations, civilizations have looked to the sky to tell stories of their culture. From Europe to Asia and to the Americas, societies have tied their mythos to the night sky in the form of constellations. A planetarium offers the perfect space to explore these stories. Exploring the stories behind the constellations also invites an audience to the planetarium that may not otherwise be interested in astronomical sciences. Exploring ancient tales and even some with new twists such as the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan broadens the ideas of what people expect of the night sky.
Abstract: Like many other institutions, the Brown Planetarium uses online programming to continue to engage learners through virtual field trips. Since many teachers need help during this time, we have found that the most requested programs correlate with State Science Standards. By working to incorporate the standards into every presentation, teachers can get the help they need. As a result, our virtual visits have been an encouraging and excellent learning experience for both the visitors and myself, even if it is not as fun as presenting in the dome.