Friday, December 4, 2020

Northcountry Planetarium celebrates black history month with Skywatchers of Africa

The North Country Planetarium presented Skywatchers of Africa at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. last Friday.

It was the hope that the audience would learn how various cultures used astronomy for calendar systems or navigations. And for those who didn’t travel much, it was an opportunity for them to have a change in world view.

The show started off with animation created by a student Quan Le. Kissner then introduced the various students who would be helping run the show.

“Please put away any equipment that emits light,” Lisabeth Kissner, Director of the Northcountry Planetarium and Presenter for the night announced.

Any light equipment could disrupt the show.

To help the audience understand the second half of the show, the first half covered the sky as seen from the United States. Famous groups of stars such as the big dipper and Cassiopeia were introduced to help serve as reference points in the transition from the North-American sky to the African sky.

“It felt like a lecture,” Charles Gyedu, an information technology major, said. “It wasn’t really friendly for the beginner.”

“It felt like a list of facts” Nabila Jibril, a nursing major,said.

In the first half it covered the zodiacs. This made the audience perk up. Gemini, Leo and Virgo were just a few of the zodiacs mentioned.

“A zodiac is a type of constellation which marks the path of the sun as seen from the earth’s perspective,” Kissner said.

“Until I saw this show, Zodiac signs always felt made up and fictional to me,”Gyedu said.

“Part of why I was interested in the show is because it combined nature and Africa, both of which I’m interested in,”Jibril said.

The second half of the show featured the highly anticipated Skywatchers of Africa.

“When we first had the show on campus, all the tickets sold out,” Kissner said.

The show was first introduced to commemorate black history month.

“It is my hope that when people see the show, they see how people of different cultures interact with the same constellations” Jordon McCloud, an environmental studies major and student worker for the planetarium, said.

Skywatchers of Africa covered various aspects of African life. Such as a Yoruba mythology story that talked about how the earth was created, the belief ancient Egyptians had on the role of the North Star in the pharaoh’s afterlife and the granaries built by the Dogon to reflect things observed in the sky.

“I hope to see more events like this,” Jibril said. “I learned a lot.”

Kissner spoke on upcoming events such as Super Volcanoes and an Earth Day Workshop that would span a week.

“The hardest part of putting the show together was probably the timings,” McCloud said. “We had to make sure the planets and constellations matched what was outside.”

Accuracy on the part of the organizers was key so that the audience could have an authentic experience.

“Astronomy is a universal thing, no pun intended,” Kissner said.

 

Email Amanogho Ugbodaga at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

 

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