Secret SHSU Destination Makes Space Not So Far Away

Another in a series of the university's secret destinations from the Houstonian (Jan. 29), this time focusing on the observatory and planetarium (which has provided plenty of fun and Farrington for decades):
Many students do not know about these facilities unless they are Physics majors or are participating in the introduction to astronomy or stars and galaxies classes. Physics staff lab assistant Mike Prokosch educates students on all the planetarium and the observatory have to offer.

“Most students don’t realize that what we do at the observatory and the planetarium are actually very separate,” Prokosch said. “At the observatory, we analyze the sun, planets and the moon, and at the planetarium, the stars, galaxies and super-novas. The planetarium gives us the advantage to see the things that we cannot see at the observatory because those things are out of our solar system and not able to be seen through a telescope. Another advantage of the planetarium is that we can fast forward or rewind the skies rotations and we don’t have to worry about it being cloudy, rainy, daytime or nighttime like we do out at the observatory."

Another detail that is often forgotten about the planetarium and observatory is their age and establishment. The planetarium is located in the Farrington building, which was built in 1959. Prokosch believes the building was built with the intention of the planetarium because of how the roof extends into the second floor of the building. The planetarium was recently updated in November 2014 and is said to now have a top-of-the-line projector.

As for the observatory, Prokosch said the dome that now sits on the grounds used to sit on the top of the Farrington building until it was moved to the observatory grounds in the late 1990’s. The dome is now used to house a large telescope.

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