Written by Kelsey Dickerson, Asst. College Life Editor
Last Friday the Planetarium presented “The Radio Universe”, the final presentation in a series that ran throughout this past school year.
“The Radio Universe,” presented by Dr. Cecelia Barnbaum, took the audience on a tour of the universe through radio wave imaging. Dr. Barnbaum explained how radio waves, which are usually associated with sound, behave exactly like the light waves you can perceive with your eyes. Though we may normally think radio waves are sound waves, the presentation said, radio waves are actually waves of light with extremely long wavelengths.
After a run-down over waves and their behaviors, the show moved on to other universal phenomena, showing how radio waves can be used to gather information that cannot be gathered using visible light alone. The audience looked at distant galaxies and pieces of the night sky created by radio wave imaging and learned how astronomers can determine the chemical composition of regions in the universe by studying images made with radio waves.
In a particularly interesting ending note to the presentation, Dr. Barnbaum explained radio waves’ ability to beam messages through space. The audience got a look at the Arecibo message, a three minute message sent from the Arecibo radio telescope toward the globular M13 star cluster, which was to be arranged into a sort of mosaic picture describing the human race and a picture of our solar system, indicating that the message had come from earth.
The show was unable to conclude with an observational period on the roof of Nevins Hall because of cloudy sky conditions, but the audience was given a look at the wonders of the night sky via the planetarium projector by Dr. Kenneth Rumstay.
If you’re looking for something different to do on a Friday night and you wouldn’t mind learning something interesting along the way, the shows in the Planetarium are the way to go. “The Radio Universe” was informational but not dry, and the phenomena projected onto the planetarium dome were beautiful. Tickets are free for all three 7, 8, and 9:00 p.m. shows, but ticket reservation starts at 6:00 p.m. in front of the planetarium in Nevins Hall.