Each fall and spring, the William M. Staerkel planetarium welcomes speakers who talk about all corners of the scientific world.

The James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series is named after Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois. This professor has been giving annual talks in this series for about 30 years.

This year, Planetarium kicks off the series with the premiere of a fulldome show, followed by a Q&A session with one of the show’s producers.

Tickets to the Kaler Science Lectures are $2 for all attendees and free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium members.

UI Physics Professor Nicol├ís Yunes created Einstein’s Gravity Playlist while working at Montana State University.

MSU’s School of Film and Photography, School of Music, Taylor Planetarium, and eXtreme Gravity Institute all collaborated on a work that interweaves their respective disciplines and highlights the beauty of science.

In the film and show, physics graduate student Lucia (played by Alisa Amador) discusses the history of general relativity, the theory Albert Einstein formulated to explain how gravity works.

Isaac Newton was able to formulate a law of universal gravitation that works well in our everyday life, and explained the motion of the moon and the planets, but there are known discrepancies in Mercury’s orbits, and the law states that You didn’t explain how massive bodies are connected by this force.

Einstein determined that this invisible “joint” that pulls two objects together is caused by distortions in the fabric of space and time.

The Earth moves through space at about 20 miles per second.

Without the sun, the earth would move in a straight line.

The mass of the Sun bends space-time, so the motion of the Earth is like spinning around a vortex.

Since our planet isn’t slowing down, its vortex isn’t sucking the Earth in, so our planet remains in a stable orbit around the Sun.

Lucia provides evidence to support this theory, including how light travels around the Sun and around distant clusters of galaxies.

She also presents the relatively recent discovery of gravitational waves emitted by merging black holes.

These gravitational waves were transformed into music that the audience could hear during the show.

After the screening, Professor Younes will discuss the generation and scientific background of gravitational waves.

The show will rebroadcast on the planetarium at 8pm on Friday and Saturday nights throughout September.

Parkland College’s William M. Sturkel Planetarium offers live sky tours and videos of the entire dome for public, private and school groups.

Sensory programs, shows in Spanish, a Pink Floyd light show, and a spacesuit show are also available.

A schedule of public shows can be found at parkland.edu/planetrium.

For show reservations and telescope rentals, please contact the staff at planetarium@parkland.edu.

Information on the Champaign County Museums Network can be found at champaigncountymuseums.org.

Erik Johnson is Director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College. You can contact him at his ejohnson@parkland.edu.

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