By Lisa Moore
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Wellesley Free Library brought the night sky inside last week so visitors could get up close and personal with the celestial objects visible in the night sky. Kim Cooper from the Museum of Science brought the Museum’s portable planetarium, Star Lab, to the Wakelin Room for three half-hour presentations on Thursday, August 25.
Families were greeted by Cooper as she stood next to what looked like a black igloo or round bouncy house. After a brief introduction, Cooper led the guests into the planetarium. Sitting under the domed structure, Cooper shared her knowledge of astronomy with the guests as images of celestial objects were projected on the dome’s curved ceiling, bringing a clear and close-up view of our actual night sky.
Visitors young and old pointed out stars, planets, and the Milky Way as Cooper shared some tips on locating specific celestial objects like the North Star and planets observable in our summer night sky - for example, red Mars in the southern night sky with bright Saturn above it and Venus low in the western sky with Jupiter above it. When asked if anyone could spot any constellations, the young guests enthusiastically pointed out what they knew, such as the Big Dipper. Cooper shared some stories about how some constellations got their names and tips for finding a few of the 88 official constellations that appear in our sky at night throughout the year.
Many of the young visitors remarked on how many more stars appeared in the planetarium sky than in the night sky outside their houses. Cooper spoke about how being close to a city decreases visibility due to light pollution, saying “The more light on the ground means fewer stars appear in the sky.” After all of their questions were answered and the presentation ended, the young astronomers and their families, armed with knowledge of a few important landmarks observed in the night sky, were ready to head outside to stargaze and practice the skills they learned in the Star Lab.