Black background "Evening Talks & Virtual Planetarium Events Fall 2020"

Fall 2020 Evening Talks and Virtual Planetarium Events

During Penn State Mont Alto’s 2020 Fall Evening Talk Series, faculty will share their expertise in native plant species, the solar system, and the history of airplane navigation.  Talks, which will be held monthly during the fall semester, will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held virtually via Zoom. All talks and virtual planetarium shows are free and open to the public. 

  • Monday, Sept. 21, “Invasive Plants and Native Replacements” – Kimberly Bohn, assistant teaching professor of forestry, will talk with our community about the dangers of inviting non-native, including ornamental plants, into your garden. These species can be detrimental when they escape your backyard and spread throughout the local environment. This webinar will help you learn to identify non-native invasive plants that are currently problematic in our local forests and parks and will present alternatives for planting native species in your backyard that are more beneficial.
  • Thursday, Oct. 22, “Our Solar System in Riddles” – How much do you know about the objects in our Solar System?  Kim Herrmann, associate professor of physics and astronomy, will share thirteen original rhyming riddles with many beautiful images and animations.  Tune in for an overview of the objects in our Solar System: the planets, dwarf planets, moons, minor bodies, and the sun itself.  Feel free to bring your space-related questions!
  • Thursday, Nov. 12, "Navigation by Constellation: From Stars to Satellites" – Thomas Kramer, lecturer of business, and former airline pilot will talk with our community about the evolution and application of aviation navigation. The talk will cover topics ranging from primitive visual references and celestial navigation to modern-day GPS, long-range navigation, and planning routes that span the globe.

Usually, presentations in the Penn State Mont Alto Evening Talk Series are followed by a star party (weather permitting). Unfortunately, COVID-19 safety measures make it impossible for star parties to occur, and events in the Penn State Mont Alto portable planetarium must also take a COVID-19-related hiatus due to safety precautions.  

To fill the gap, Herrmann will offer three virtual planetarium shows via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 24, Monday, Oct. 12 and Monday, Nov. 16. Like the evening talks, all three virtual planetarium shows will start at 7:30 p.m.

The shows will use free programs such as Stellarium and Partiview that anyone can download to explore objects in the sky. 

Stellarium can simulate the day or night sky from anywhere on earth and users can explore well-known solar system objects – like our moon and the planets – as well as constellations, which are recognized patterns of stars that are frequently named for mythological figures in various cultures. Stellarium can zoom in on individual targets like a virtual telescope.  

Partiview allows users to simulate flying through and even outside of our own Milky Way Galaxy, using real astronomical data maintained by the Hayden Planetarium.  

Virtual planetarium shows are recommended for community members five years old and older, and questions are encouraged. 

Community members interested in attending should pre-register online to receive the Zoom information for the talks via email.