Star of the wise men is no secret this season

Mike Robinson and Mike Robinson

Northwest Ohio stargazers will be looking toward the sky this December.

The University Planetarium is presenting “Secret of the Star,” a holiday oriented presentation that focuses on “the star of the wise men.”

Dale Smith, an astronomy professor and the planetarium’s director, organized the show which began Dec. 1 and runs through Dec. 17.

“Christmas and seasonal programs are standard for almost every planetarium,” Smith said. “In December we deal with the ‘star of the wise men’ as part of the fascination of the unknown.”

Dale, who has been teaching at the University since 1983, began the “Secret of the Star” show in 1989.

The planetarium is regularly used for astronomy classes, but Smith also uses it to organize special shows with a theme.

The star of the wise men was supposedly the star that led three wise men to find Jesus on the first Christmas. Astronomers have always wondered if the “star of the wise men” was real or just a legend.

With “Secret of the Star,” Smith discusses possible scientific explanations of this legend.

“Astronomy stretches the mind and looks at the universe on a larger scale,” Smith said. “We ask questions to discover what’s going on out there.”

Glenn Tiede, an astronomy instructor, believes there are many benefits for special planetarium shows.

“The planetarium shows are very entertaining but they’re also informative,” Tiede said. “The projector in the center of the room is designed to simulate the real nighttime sky.”

According to Smith, the planetarium shows attract an eclectic group of people. Any one in the northwest Ohio area is welcome.

Sophomore Erin Fredrickson plans on attending the “Secret of the Star” presentation.

“The planetarium gives a really great visual representation of the sky,” Fredrickson said. “It makes it much easier to understand the material when you can see lifelike images of it.”

“Secret of the Star” usually lasts about an hour and is presented on Tuesday and Friday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m.

Next semester, the planetarium will be presenting “Nine Planets and Counting” and “Navigating with Lewis and Clark.”