The University Record, January 14, 2002

Planetarium profiles star astronomers

By Martin May

This collage of portraits of women astronomers is the work of Emily Damstra, alumna of the School of Art and Design. Original illustrations by Damstra are featured in the planetarium show. (Artwork courtesy of the Exhibit Museum of Natural History)
A new planetarium show, produced by the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, breaks new ground by highlighting a particular group of people behind the advances in astronomy. The program, Women in Astronomy: A History, focuses on women who have made important discoveries in astronomy and have helped form an understanding of the universe.

As the planetarium lights dim and the night sky is illuminated above, audience members are treated to sights of comets, constellations, the Space Shuttle and exploding stars. The show includes portraits of women who have made significant contributions to astronomy, including Hypatia of Alexandria, Caroline Herschel and Sally Ride. The narrative tells the not-so-known stories of these notable women.

“As with any in-house production, there are many people involved, from the advisory group to the artists, the recording studio, to my student helpers and, of course, the donors who helped make it possible,” says Matthew Linke, planetarium director at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History.

Summarizing the show, Linke says “people can expect to come away with a better understanding of the role of women in astronomy over the centuries. We do cover a range of women in time and subject and hope this might inspire someone to pursue this field or any field that they have an interest in.”

In development for two years, the program was funded, in part, by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs and by donations from private individuals.

The planetarium show runs approximately an hour and will be shown 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through March 10. Tickets are $3 per person. For more information, call (734) 764-0478.