Journey across the universe

Pierce alumni Melissa Kevorkian and her two sons Preston Kevorkian and Evan Kevorkian look up at the ceiling of the planetarium at the Center for Sciences on Nov. 21, 2016 at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif.
Pierce alumni Melissa Kevorkian and her two sons Preston Kevorkian and Evan Kevorkian look up at the ceiling of the planetarium at the Center for Sciences on Nov. 21, 2016 at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. Photo: Taylor Arthur

A glimpse into the night sky hides treasures of beautiful sights, expanding galaxies and pulsating stars, however in two-hours the riches of the universe were uncovered.  

Professor of Astronomy Dale Fields piloted the trip through the universe at the Pierce College Planetarium across the universe Monday, Nov. 21 from 5-7 p.m in the Center for Sciences.

“Astronomy is something that connects everybody,” Fields said. “It’s the one science that I think more people find a connection to than anything else. It’s not just something that can connect us, but actually has to.”

Students, parents with young children and the general public filled the seats of the planetarium, awaiting the show. First they gazed up at the night sky from Earth, exploring the constellations that reside above.

Once the journey began, Fields took the audience on a tour of the Solar System, exploring the orbits of the planets. After a brief stop on Mars to see the sky from a different perspective, it was on to exploring the Asteroid Belt.

In the Asteroid Belt, Fields explained some real-life asteroid protection methods such as, heating one side of the asteroid, releasing gases and sending it off like a rocket. Another method is using a “space lasso” to rope the asteroid and alter its trajectory.

The future business of asteroid mining was also discussed, highlighting the abundance of raw materials within asteroids.

Fields moved the trip out into other nebuli, showing pictures from the Hubble Telescope. Inside the Crab Nebula, the audience could see the image of a dying star and supernova.

11-year-olds Evan and Preston Kevorkian liked the dying star and supernova, while their mother, Melissa Kevorkian, came away from the show with a new perspective on our significance in the universe.

“I liked the experience of going through time and seeing the many galaxies and stars that exist beyond our view,” Melissa Kevorkian said. “Realizing how fortunate we are to be here given the mass of this universe.”

Fields took the audience to the farthest reaches of the known universe, displaying the countless galaxies that exist, and to the outermost microwaves that are the aftermath of the Big Bang.

Fields sees the benefits of a planetarium show for everyone, including his students who may already know some of the information.

“There’s something to be said about just a couple hours worth of just being immersed and seeing all the stuff fly around,” Fields said. “Some of it I talk about in the classes, but there’s also extra things that don’t really connect to any one class, but are just some cool stuff about space in general.”

David Burnson enjoyed the experience.

“It was really nice,” Burnson said. “I hope they have more shows in the future.”