UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

December 20, 2011
Susan Banovetz | Director of External Affairs | 218 726-6141|
Christiana Kapsner | UMD Public Relations Assistant | 218 726-8830 |

Winter Solstice Invitation to Community Families

A Unique Celebration at the UMD Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium

Celebrate the winter solstice at the UMD Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium on Thursday, December 22 from 4-9 p.m. The Duluth Children's Museum is partnering with the Planetarium, combining stellar sightings with solstice activities.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy this free, fun-filled, unique evening on the shortest day of the year. There will be full-dome programs scheduled for every half hour that include dark-sky shows, American Indian sky lore, the universe in 30-minutes, the winter solstice, and many more intriguing solstice activities. The Duluth Children's Museum is offering free arts and crafts projects for children of any age. Make a space stencil, space-foam shapes, or out of this world book marks.

If the weather cooperates, telescopic observations will be available for participants.

"The Universe is a fascinating place," said Howard Mooers, UMD geological sciences professor and director of the Planetarium. "The winter solstice celebration is a tour of the Cosmos in our newly remodeled planetarium and science theater with full-dome video and special effects."

The UMD Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium reopened on Friday, September 2, 2011 after an extensive renovation. Mooers and the Swenson College of Science and Engineering faculty and staff launched a fundraiser that covered the cost of new seats, as well as other remodeling expenses that included updating the electronics, lighting, and the controls for the projector.

At the same time, a gift shop was added to the planetarium and is stocked with planetarium t-shirts, fleece jackets, coffee mugs, numerous educational gifts, astronomical binoculars, and astronaut ice cream.

The planetarium is one of UMD's most popular attractions. During the 2011 Labor Day weekend, the planetarium welcomed a record number of visitors with 894 attending.

The Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium was completed in 1967 with a generous gift from Mr. Alworth and his wife Margaret. Don Jackson was the first planetarium director, followed by Glenn Langhorst in the late 1980s, and by Timothy Holst in 1992. In 2005, Howard Mooers took over as director and has been working to renovate the aging facility. The original lighting has been replaced, a new surround sound system installed, and the planetarium now has a full-dome video projection system, and new high-backed theater seats.

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