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Ott of this world

Physics and Friends attendees setting up preparing to launch paper rockets.

On the second floor of Lind Lecture Hall, Weber State University students, faculty and community members can find the Ott Planetarium.

“When we had the science lab up there, students would go up to their science classes, and they would say, ‘Oh, look, a planetarium,’’ John Armstrong, Ott Planetarium director, said. “Now that it’s on the corner of campus, people don’t know about it.”

Ott Planetarium is open 2-5 p.m. Monday through Friday for anyone who is interested in space or has questions they want answered. The planetarium is also open to school groups from kindergarten through 12th grade for field trips.

Ott Planetarium’s main attraction is a viewing room with a dome screen that displays films about space. They occasionally use the viewing deck on the fourth floor of Tracy Hall, which is a worthwhile place if the dome screen isn’t good enough.

At Tracy Hall’s viewing deck, star parties are held the first Friday of every month from 10-11 p.m. Star parties are events where casual astronomers and stargazers can get together and observe astral bodies with like-minded folks. The viewing deck is available to rent out throughout the year for those who want to observe the stars privately.

During finals week, the planetarium offers relaxation shows where students can go to the dome theater to listen to music and look at interesting visuals.

“Normally you think of planetariums as something that do star shows, but we can show pretty much anything that we want to put on the dome because it’s all digital,” Armstrong said. “We’ve had shows about environmental sciences, shows about chemistry, shows about math, stuff like that, so I just think it’s fun to have that projector.”

Before COVID-19, the planetarium room put on lightshow concerts, and Armstrong hopes to see another put on.

Next semester, the projector for the dome screen will be brighter and higher definition.

On Oct. 6, the various science departments held a small fair called Physics and Friends with booths and displays for their fields. The astronomers projected presentations on the dome about parts of space or stargazing.

“One thing we’re trying to do with the open hours is just encourage people to come up and hang out. We want people to come out and enjoy the planetarium,” Armstrong said.

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Terra Bell
Terra Bell, Culture reporter

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