Portable planetarium offers night sky view in Forks

FORKS — A closer look into the sky will be offered Saturday at the Olympic Natural Resources Center by students in the University of Washington’s astronomy department.

The students will bring the mobile planetarium, which provides a close-up view of the sky at night, to the center at 1455 S. Forks Ave.

Two free programs — each about 20 minutes long — will be offered Saturday, said Ellen Matheny, director of education and outreach at the center.

The first, set from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., will be a family-focused program, with presentations and activities for children, she said, while the second session, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., will be for adults, with more in-depth presentations.

Visitors “will be immersed in a night sky,” Matheny said, explaining that they will see the stars move and hear information about them.

In addition to the planetarium show, each program will have several stations with hands-on activities, she said.

The planetarium’s dome, created by the company Go-Dome, is an inflatable room resembling an igloo.

At about 10 feet high and 20 feet across, the dome can fit about 25 people.

It is a fully functional planetarium that offers many of the same images as the high-tech planetarium at the UW.

The planetarium runs Microsoft Research’s World Wide Telescope software on a laptop computer.

A large hemispherical mirror projects the high-density image from the back of the dome across three-quarters of its interior.

For additional information, phone Matheny at 360-374-4556 or email her at ematheny@uw.edu.

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