Planet-gazers and amateur astronomers alike have reason to thank their lucky stars. The Walter R. Schuele Planetarium, at the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center in Bay Village, has expanded its programming, now offering presentations every Saturday afternoon at 1 and 2, and every first and third Saturday at 7 p.m. Topics covered in the hour-long programs -- from meteorites to the moon -- change monthly.
The center is also offering something else for star trackers through January 20: a lunar rock exhibit on loan from NASA's Glenn Research Center. The three rock and three soil samples were brought to Earth by three separate Apollo space missions in 1972. Jay Reynolds, the planetarium's director, was certified by NASA to handle the lunar rock samples, and he thinks it's important for them to be available for public viewing. "I'm a big believer that these rocks shouldn't just sit in a safe somewhere," he says. "People should be able to come out and see them."
If the skies are clear during the planetarium's Saturday evening programs, Reynolds promises to haul out the center's telescopes so people can see for themselves the stars, planets, or constellations that are discussed during the lectures. "The greatest thrill is watching people's faces light up when they look through the telescope for the first time," he says. "They suddenly realize that these objects are real and not just stories in a book."
In other words, he's bringing astronomy down to Earth.