Planetarium to mark anniversary

Special show planned at Lourdes College

6/29/2011
BY PAYTON WILLEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Megeath

Laura J. Megeath is the planetarium coordinator at the Appold Planetarium at Lourdes College.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt

Laura J. Megeath is the planetarium coordinator at the Appold Planetarium at Lourdes College.
Laura J. Megeath is the planetarium coordinator at the Appold Planetarium at Lourdes College.

Lourdes College's Appold Planetarium is to observe its fifth-year anniversary Wednesday with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and an original show inside the planetarium ending at 7 p.m.

Invited to the event are Lourdes faculty and staff, board members, and donors, including the Appold family, whose gift helped the school meet the $170,000 cost of refurbishing the planetarium, allowing its reopening in 2006.

Originally, the planetarium was named Lourdes Copernicus Planetarium by Lourdes' founder, Mother Adelaide Sandusky, who opened the planetarium in 1968. It was to honor renaissance astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

Heather Hoffman, a spokesman for Loudes, said the planetarium closed in the late 1990s because its technology had become outdated.

"Since we are private, there was no source of funding," Ms. Hoffman said.

It wasn't until Mary Arquette, vice president for institutional advancement at Lourdes, gave Pat Appold a tour of the grounds that there was hope for the planetarium again.

Ms. Hoffman said that Mrs. Appold's husband had a passion for astronomy and that their family would love to help out any way they could.

"The Appolds are a very large family with kids and grandkids," Ms. Hoffman said, "He thought by assisting with the reopening that they would have that to leave behind for the younger kids too, and it helped the whole community."

The Appolds' support transformed the planetarium with a new interior and upgraded software. The SciDome that is used for the planetarium allows shows to be presented in full color in real time, and even creates a three-dimensional sky simulation.

"One thing that is really neat is that the technology gives the planetarium coordinator the ability to even create her own shows," Ms. Hoffman said, "Really, you can show anything on it. That's one of the biggest benefits."

Ohio Magazine named the planetarium the "best place to see the stars" in January, 2010.

Planetarium Coordinator Laura Megeath said she has designed the show for the audience to see the contrast between the old equipment's capabilities and those of the current equipment.

"It's just so much more; it's not just showing what the constellations look like tonight, but how they'll change over thousands and thousands of years," Ms. Megeath said.

The show also will elaborate on how the planetarium can be used. Ms. Megeath said that the planetarium does not have to be used strictly to teach astronomy but can be used for biology and mathematics as well.

Ms. Megeath is working to choreograph a piece that goes with music.

"I want to show that it's not just that it's education, but it is very visually engaging."

The planetarium offers shows throughout the academic year on select Saturday nights at 7:30. The shows are open to the public and cost $5 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under.

The planetarium can seat 50. Those interested are encouraged to make a reservation by calling the planetarium at 419-517-8897 or visiting lourdes.edu/appold.

Contact Payton Willey at: paytonwilley@theblade.com or 419-724-6065