‘Oasis in Space’ a hit in the new planetarium

Maryann Kopp

In the center of the recently remodeled Bakersfield College William M. Thomas Planetarium sits the new Goto Chronos star projector, a purple machine that rises above floor level when needed and stays under floor level otherwise.
With eight thousand different holes, each serving the purpose of projecting stars onto the 36-foot Spitz dome, Chronos opened the recent presentation of “Oasis in Space,” an open to the public show with a tour of the night sky.
Guided by planetarium director and BC professor of astronomy Nick Strobel, the tour of the night sky did not only show the positioning of the sunset, moon and different planets in respect to the date of the actual show but also various constellations and how to identify them.
With two much smaller screens positioned underneath the dome ceiling, Strobel was able to show the constellations in finer detail while connecting the stars with lines, making the actual shape of every constellation more visible.
After Chronos was lowered back into the ground, the second part of the presentation was the actual main feature, “Oasis in Space,” which explored our galaxy and beyond in search of liquid water.
A nearly full planetarium crowd was guided through each planet and scientific evidence regarding whether each planet could support liquid water and, as a result, life, was presented by the narrator.
The graphics could be said to have had a 3-D effect, creating the illusion of planets, stars, gases, and whole galaxies circling around the dome ceiling. These presentations are relatively new to the BC planetarium and shows have been selling out, even with a maximum occupancy of 72 seats.
Strobel says that he is able to run these public presentations, “Oasis in Space” being the third show thus far, whenever his schedule permits it.
On average, he has the shows one weekend a month.While some of the all-dome shows actually came with the new system, others have to be purchased with a price of about $5,000 each.
Anyone who missed out on the sold out “Black Holes” presentation can catch the repeat showing Saturday afternoon, April 21. Tickets are available at the BC ticket office.