Planetarium Visit Essay

On November 10 I went to the De Anza Fujitsu planetarium to see one of their weekly Saturday night astronomy shows. At first I was expecting a theatre with an open ceiling and being able to observe and talk about the stars, but when I got there I soon realized it was just a dome room.

But, this wasn’t just any dome room, it ended up having a star projector in the middle which illuminated the dark room with stars of how the night sky would look that night.First though, we watched a short cartoon film which I couldn’t really apply to the class at all because it seemed like the show was for the children in the audience. After the cartoon was over, the instructor dimmed all the lights and flipped the switch to the star projector and within as few seconds it was pitch black and the ceiling was illuminated with what looked like the night sky.

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I was pretty blown away at how realistic the dome ceiling resembled the night sky and it actually felt like I was outside sitting under the night sky looking up at the stars.The instructor then started pointing out a few things which we would be able to identify in the night sky such as certain stars, planets, such as Mars and Jupiter which were located out towards the west, and even a few constellations like Pegasus and Sigma and explained a little how they relate to the Greek mythology. The one thing which really stuck out to me though was when he spoke of the sun. The instructor briefly stated that in a few billion years or so the sun would expand into what is known as a red giant and expand in diameter so big that the sun will be able to hit the earth and pretty much burn whatever life was left.

Now a red giant can only be sprung up if the mass of a star when it first begins is large enough to create helium helium fusion. Now this will not happen for some billions of years to come but when it does the sun is going to be trying to balance out the energy coming in and out so that it will be able to stabilize onto the next chapter of its life. The reason it turns red is due to the the size of the star and its core temperature.Since the star is so massive and the temperature at the core remains the same the temperature throughout the whole star will be less hence the redness and according to the HR Diagram, the redder the star, the cooler it is.

In conclusion, I would say that the trip to De Anza was definitely a positive one and would encourage anyone interested in astronomy to check it out. The prices are very reasonable. It’s a very convenient drive for anyone around the Silicon Valley and it was a very interesting as well as educational experience which I don’t regret at all.

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