The Planetarium: MCC’s Shining Star

By Eric Emmons, Staff Writer –

Ever feel the need a get to just escape from the busy hubbub of the city? With papers due

and work schedules pressing in, escaping even for just an hour can seem impossible. But that is

exactly what MCC's Planetarium can provide.

Jon Truax has been host of the domed theater-style planetarium for 27 years and also

teaches astronomy at MCC. His love of astronomy and the desire to educate the community has

been fueling him ever since he began.

“It’s all about the community,” he said. “It’s all about trying to teach people about the

universe and there’s a lot of excitement there for me.”

The Planetarium has state-of- the-art digital projection, sound, and lighting systems. It has

a total of 44 seats and five wheelchair-accessible spaces, and is open to adults and school-age

children. The theater opened in 1972 and received a digital upgrade in 2011.

The planetarium offers students, community residents and parents an opportunity to

engage themselves and their children with programs involving space, the planets, and stars.

Truax said the shows are a blend of fun and education, entertaining viewers while challenging

and engaging them.

“People have an opportunity to be entertained and learn something new about the

universe and their place in it, which is exciting,” Truax said.

The planetarium has been a source of knowledge about the skies for many students at

MCC and also provides an escape for students who want to relax and be amazed.

“It is a sweet experience, said MCC student Tessa Trautner. "I would watch the screen

above me and it felt like I was literally in space.”

Though the shows are presented at MCC, the planetarium is open to the public and over

the years has been a source of knowledge and entertainment for people throughout the

community. (Add info here on the visual show and musical accompaniment?)

“The planetarium allows anyone to get a close up view of space,” said Isabel Michalek, a

Spring Lake High School students with no connection to MCC who attended a planetarium

program this past year. "The science aspect as well as the beauty of the universe, is uncovered.”

Currently the planetarium is showing “We are Stars,” an intriguing look at our atomic

history, at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This show will continue through Oct. 27, then

from Nov. 1 through Dec. 1.

The next presentation, “Christmas Show: Mystery of the Christmas Star,” is an

investigation of the star seen over Bethlehem on the night of Christ’s birth.

At the conclusion of each 35-minute presentation, Truax gives a brief tour of the current

night sky along with some suggestions of specific objects that can be seen in space with the

naked eye.

Truax recommends arriving a few minutes early due to the limited space in the

planetarium. The planetarium is also completely free, and is the only free planetarium in all of

West Michigan.


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