Penn State Mont Alto announces Evening Talk and Star Party Fall Series

Kimberly Herrmann

Dr. Kimberly Herrmann, Penn State Mont Alto associate professor in physics and astronomy, will present an Evening Talk and Star Party on Sept. 5.

Credit: Debra Collins

MONT ALTO, Pa. — During Penn State Mont Alto’s Evening Talk and Star Party Fall Series, faculty and staff will share their experiences and expertise in a diverse collection of topics, from astronomy to forestry and music. Held on Wednesdays, Sept. 5, Oct. 24, and Nov. 14 in the General Studies Auditorium, the talks begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

The fall schedule is as follows:

Sept. 5, “Online Astro Videos: Edutainment,” with Kimberly Herrmann, associate professor in physics and astronomy. “While countless astronomy videos are available online, we will start by choosing to watch some 'Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell' videos,” said Herrmann. Kurzgesagt is a Munich-based YouTube channel and design studio that produces animated educational content about scientific subjects. The videos will cover four different categories, including: Light and Our Solar System, Stars and Stellar Death, Time and The Universe, and Life in The Universe. Herrmann invites patrons to ask their own astronomy questions and also bring some short (no more than 10 minutes) astronomy video suggestions to watch and discuss.

Oct. 24, “Student Life at Mont Alto: 1908 and 2018,” by Peter Linehan, associate professor in forestry. “Mont Alto students have always had to work hard to succeed in their studies,” Linehan said. “Although student life 110 years ago was very different from today — no internet or cellphones, for example — there are many aspects that haven't changed much at all: students still need to have fun and relax. In this talk, we will discuss the different social and academic conditions at Mont Alto between 1908 and 2018.”

Nov. 14, “The True Story of How and Why Handel wrote ‘Messiah,’” by Bill Rolar, instructor in music. This last presentation will be an exploration of the story of George Frideric Handel's personal situation, which caused him to write "Messiah" during financial "last chance" desperation in Ireland in 1742. A short historical fiction film will help tell the story. “We will experience a performance of ‘Hallelujah’ with an enormous chorus accompanied by the world's largest functional pipe organ with a nine-story pure golden facade; this occurred in a massive Philadelphia department store with a marble interior,” Rolar said. The presentation also will include "Hallelujah" performed by 6,000 musicians with full orchestra and organ in a large London circular concert hall. There will be time for questions, comments and reactions.

Weather permitting, Herrmann also will lead a Star Party after each presentation in the field between Orchard Road and the General Studies Building parking lot from 8:45 to 10 p.m. Telescope viewing and night sky tours with green laser pointers will be part of the star party activities. Multiple telescopes should be available, courtesy of the TriState Astronomers (, a local amateur astronomy club. In the event of cold weather, patrons should wear layers of clothing and bring jackets, hats and gloves. Note that if the weather does not cooperate for viewing, due to precipitation or cloud cover, the star party may be canceled.

Those interested in astronomy also can attend Penn State Mont Alto Planetarium Shows from 8 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, Aug. 30, Sept. 27 and Nov. 8, and from 7 to 8 p.m. on Fridays, Aug. 31 and Sept. 28.


Debra Collins

Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Penn State Mont Alto

Work Phone