On Friday, Oct. 4, the University of Maine’s Emera Astronomy Center hosted Spooky Space, a presentation connecting staples of Halloween with their counterparts in outer space. An award for Best Rainy Day Playground from Downeast Magazine is displayed in the atrium of the astronomy center, which is really fitting for the atmosphere of the center and its accompanying M.F. Jordan Planetarium; entering into the center, one is quickly able to forget about the outside world while paying full attention to the stars.
Spooky Space is a program that is set to run every Friday of October and is described by the following: “Would you like to meet the spectacular stars of Halloween? Monsters, zombies, and ghosts — and their far more terrible counterparts in space? Oh yes, space has its monsters: Black holes, zombie stars, and spectacular ghostly nebulae! Explore these ‘spooky’ wonders of the night sky here at the planetarium.”
What makes this show even more engaging is the IMAX-style domed theater screen the program is displayed on. The entertainment and visuals of space and Halloween haunts take up your entire field of vision and flights through space begin to take on an enchanting and captivating quality as you grip your seat thinking that the theater itself is moving.
The program seemed more geared toward children, with goofy ghouls and dancing werewolves, but there is no reason Spooky Space couldn’t be fun for everyone. The images of distant stars, black holes and majestic, dreamy gas clouds were quite dazzling on the large screen and anyone can enjoy that.
The show also featured Shawn Laatsch, the director of the Emera Astronomy Center, providing lessons and facts about various astronomical features and pointing out some constellations that can be seen in the night sky of Maine at this time of year. Laatsch’s presentation was both insightful and entertaining and was really a highlight of the evening’s presentation.
In the flurry of school work and regular work, it is an unfortunate fact that students might miss out on some lesser-known events and happenings around campus. The Emera Astronomy Center is well worth checking out for inexpensive and fascinating fun. In addition to the weekly installments of Spooky Space, other events to look forward to include the “Science Lecture Series” with Dr. Scott Randall titled “Black Holes, Exploding Stars, and Clusters of Galaxies: 20 Years of NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory” on Thursday, Oct. 10 and the program “Einstein’s Gravity Playlist” next month.