Northwest NEWS

November 15, 1999

Front Page

Planetarium brings astronomy to life

by Deborah Stone

   Many high schools offer astronomy as part of their science curricula, but most do not have their own planetarium in which to bring the subject to life.

   When Inglemoor High School was built in 1965, school officials gave the nod for a planetarium to be created. Today, Inglemoor's planetarium is still operating and in use by students in astronomy classes, as well as by those in the astronomy club.

   "Our planetarium holds up to forty-two people at one time and although it's very basic, it's in good shape and serves our purposes just fine," says Cheri Dracobly, astronomy and physics teacher at Inglemoor. "We can show the night sky, look at the planets that are up, locate the stars, and bring up the sun and moon. We can show movement and phases and point out the various constellations."

   According to Dracobly, the students really enjoy using the planetarium, and their interest has led to the creation of an astronomy club. The club meets once a week after school and practices doing presentations in the planetarium.

   "We have started inviting elementary schools to come to the planetarium," Dracobly said. "So far, we've had several fifth and sixth grade classes come. The Astronomy Club students bring up the nighttime skies and tell the mythological stories associated with the constellations. Both the high school students and the grade school students seem to get a lot out of these sessions. It's been a great benefit to both groups."

   Dracobly hopes to hold a public show in January or February. She says, "We would love to invite the community to come to a nighttime presentation to learn about the stars. We're hoping to advertise it shortly after the first of the year."

   The District and Inglemoor's principal, Vicky Sherwood, have been very supportive of the planetarium. Funds were allocated for upgrades, and recently new carpet, lighting, and seats were installed.

   "This is a wonderful treasure for a high school to have," states Dracobly. "It is also a great resource for the community."