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WAC 2019

Schedule and Information

Paper Session 1

  • Karl von Ahnen

    • Teaching a Community Education Course

  • Caity Sullivan

    • Expanding Planetarium Partnerships

  • Mike Smail and Michael McConville

    • Bright Lights, Big Scopes: Urban and Suburban Public Outreach

Please remember that this schedule is connected the working document and may have slight changes.

Paper Session 2

  • Tara Tomlinson

    • Undergrads Make our Dome Go Round

  • Michele Wistisen

    • How can you address non astronomy science standards in the dome

  • Toshi Komatsu

    • Using Science On a Sphere Data in Domes

  • Judi Little

    • Making the Invisible, Visible






Blender Camp -Cycles Render

Caemon Finley and Jack L Northrup

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workshop for using the Cycles Renderer in Blender.  Participants will receive files and instructions on Animating text, Adding an image or logo, Animating a shape, and modifying the camera for fisheye mode.

Blender - CGI


Blender Camp -Refresher of Internal Render

Jack L Northrup

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) refresher workshop on using Blender’s Internal Renderer.  Participants will receive files and instructions to make a generic fulldome “Welcome to the Planetarium” movie.  As a refresher, participant questions from previous experiences may cause side discussions and additional content.

Blender - CGI


Bright Lights, Big Scopes: Urban and Suburban Public Outreach

Mike Smail and Michael McConville

A semi-known Americana singer once crooned ‘You can’t see stars from the city’. But, as many of us know, it’s actually not that bad. Even in substantially light polluted regions, the Moon, planets, and other celestial objects still shine through. We’ll take a look at building an urban/suburban astronomy outreach program from the ground up, featuring case studies from the Adler Planetarium and the Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College.

Public outreach

Expanding Planetarium Partnerships

Caity Sullivan

Planetariums are unique environments that can be used for a variety of events and experiences beyond what visitors may typically expect. Expanding program offerings and partnering with organizations outside of the planetarium community is a great way to push the boundaries of what planetariums are capable of, while introducing more diverse audiences into the dome. Building these relationships can also provide opportunities to share planetarium content and expertise in places completely outside of the planetarium world. In this session, we will discuss the partnerships we, at the Charles Hayden Planetarium, have made, and how you can expand the possibilities and reach of your staff and dome.

Expanding planetarium partnerships to bring in more diverse programming

How can you address non astronomy science standards in the dome

Michele Wistisen

The Next Generation Science standards lack a rich astronomy curriculum.  This may mean that schools don't feel a visit to the planetarium can support their science curriculum needs.  By using resources like Fulldome OnDemand, a planetarium can still provide valuable opportunities to school groups to support their science curriculum.


Making the Invisible, Visible

Judi Little

So much of what we know about astronomy comes from the electromagnetic spectrum. Most students and much if the general population are only familiar with visible light. They have often heard of the rest of the EM spectrum but have difficulty understanding how we can "see" the Universe when we can't see the actual wavelengths. This presentation uses lessons from NASA and personal experiences from my SOFIA ambassador's training to aid people in their grasp of these concepts.

Using infrared wavelengths in astronomy


Kyle Doane, Mark Webb, Michael McConville, Toshi Komatsu

LIPS is an exploration of live, interactive programming in your dome.  We believe this type of programming creates a deeper learning environment and keeps customers returning again and again to your dome.  The LIPS symposium ( is an annual 3 day intensive event.  Mini LIPS will give you a taste of the LIPS philosophy and some practical activities you can try in your dome. 

You may sign up for some or all of the three LIPS sessions.

Session one (Mark): Freefall Trajectory--Planetarium Improv Without a Net (or a Dome)
Description: Based on previous workshops from LIPS, this 75 minute crazy-fest is a creativity, confidence, and resourcefulness builder. With no time to consider the impossible, you and your collaborators will build an amazing show from scratch and then present it to your peers, despite the artificial obstacles and unrealistic constraints imposed on you. This workshop will be more fun than any other activity at the conference, and if you are willing to believe that, then this is the place for you.

Session two: (Michael and Toshi)

One of the defining aspects of live planetarium presentations is audience interaction -- and there's always bound to be a younger audience member who wants answers to the Universe's most complex questions. While we might be experts on the topics we discuss, or at least have a strong comprehension of how those things work, communicating to an audience with a wide range of ages and backgrounds forces us to reassess how we translate what we know into understanding.


"ELI5" is an intellectual challenge to explain the cosmos without talking down to our audiences. We'll break into small groups, each tasked with randomly-chosen astronomical concepts, and will present our "findings" to the rest of the groups. This is a workshop that stresses storytelling and synthesizing information quickly, while remaining accessible to our audiences.


Session three: BYO LIPs

Bring samples of your best live, interactive activities to share with the community.   BYO LIPs will happen in the vendor hall (19:00-21:00).  All vendors are welcome to participate using their own equipment if they wish.

Live Presentation Experience


Our Ambassadors of Astronomy

Rachael R Cole

The internship program recently developed at the College of Southern Nevada Planetarium has been a success! It has provided a great opportunity for students to gain exposure, expand their knowledge base, and improve their skill sets. Regardless of where they started from all interns have improved and can now utilize this experience to further their professional lives. These are the Astronomers and Planetarium Officials of the future.

Planetarium Intern Program


Paper Modeling

Brett Redemske

The processes and techniques of building paper models for display.  Models discussed include airplanes, probes, and spacecraft. 

Craft to Exhibit


The Production of Animated Planetarium Shows

Caemon Finley

Blender is a free, open source program designed for 3D modelling and animation. Created in 1998 by the Blender Foundation, it offers an increasingly wide range of features, including the recently added Cycles path tracing engine and the upcoming EEVEE renderer. The Cycles engine is known as an "unbiased, physically based path tracing engine," meaning it traces light backwards from the camera to produce renders indistinguishable from photos without sacrificing render time. These features are what place Blender among the best professional animation tools like Maya, Houdini, and Cinema 4D despite the price tag. With Blender, the Casper Planetarium may produce planetarium shows with complex models, materials, simulations, and visual effects, free of charge. Blender also contains a video and audio editor, enabling shows to be produced from the ground up using almost no outside programs.

Blender -CGI


Satellite Wakes in the Encke Gap

Jenica Lesser

Saturn’s rings are made up of countless particles orbiting Saturn from near the planet's cloud tops to nearly 80,000 kilometers above the clouds. The particles range from dust-sized ice grains to ones that are as large as mountains as they orbit around Saturn due to the pull of Saturn’s gravity.

The moon Pan deflects the ring particles when the ring particles pass by, not only at the edges of the gaps but also tens of kilometers away from the gap. This creates concentrations of ring material that look like dark and light stripes in images as the ring material retains the energy from Pan's deflection. These are called satellite wakes.

From the data collected by Cassini, we will be able to determine how fast the satellite wakes damp from Pan. For the satellite wakes to damp, the material in the rings collide with itself, restoring the ring to its pre-encounter state, which means that their amplitude of oscillation of the wakes decreases with time and eventually goes to zero.

Planetary Astronomy


Teaching a Community Education Class

Karl von Ahnen

Perhaps you already teach a class like this. If not, I'll share some of the things I've learned in the over 30 years that I have been doing it (...and amazingly, people keep coming!). Things like: How to get started, what I've found to be a good format, what to cover, how to keep it lively, what people expect and how fun and profitable it can be. If you already teach a class like this, come and lets compare notes.

Teaching a short astronomy course

Teaching STEM for All @ your Local Planetarium

Krista Murnane Testin

Many people remember their first field trip to a planetarium. For decades it has been a destination for STEM education, offering an immersive educational experience for all. Planetariums have come a long way since the star projectors of the 70s and 80s. As advancements are made in planetariums, they are going beyond looking up at the stars in night sky. With ever-advancing computer data visualization, planetariums can not only show you the stars but fly you to planets and beyond our own star. They can take you on an underwater adventure exploring the depths of the ocean, a walk-through tropical rain forest studying its ecosystems, or travel inside the human body. A planetarium visit will not only spark interest but also reinforce content knowledge and go places most average people may never see in person; it will be a trip that is remembered for the rest of your life.

Planetariums as informal education


Undergrads Make our Dome Go Round

Tara Tomlinson

Fiske Planetarium, located on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, is committed to sharing free, high-quality resources with the broader planetarium community. Fiske annually employs roughly forty undergraduates who develop and lead live presentations in our theater, conduct outreach efforts off campus, and are active in other essential facility operations. This diverse set of planetarium specialists, who continually bring fresh ideas and perspectives and are relatable to younger audiences, receive valuable work experience in STEM education and communication. In our presentation, we will share training materials used to prepare our student staff and discuss related infrastructure. We will also provide an overview of outreach programming and its logistics. Finally, we will link participants to free full dome video resources provided by Fiske through our ftp server site (

Undergrads in planetarium

Using Science On a Sphere Data in Domes

Toshi Komatsu

Climate change is a major theme in NGSS, and you may be asked to address it in a dome presentation. Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a treasure trove of (free!) global visualization data, but how can you use that data in your dome? Whether your system can natively access SOS data or if you need to manually show the data with a separate projector, I will share tips and tricks for getting what you need to supplement your dome presentations.

Climate Presentation Resources


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