"The Role of Planetariums in Astronomy Education" Manning, James G. (1995)

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"The Role of Planetariums in Astronomy Education"
James G. Manning (1995)

URL: http://www.griffithobs.org/IPSroleplan.html

SITE SUMMARY: This document, provided on a page at the Griffith Observatory Web site, is reproduced from the International Planetarium Society's journal Planetarian, 24, December 1995. It features Manning's knowledge and experience on the role and goals of planetariums, particularly with reference to education, when the first ones were built, as they are today, and what they will be in the future. Manning is president of the International Planetarium Society.


  1. Why, according to Manning, have planetariums been created for decades? Identify at least eight facts that, he says, help people appreciate the role of planetariums. Identify and specify what he says is useful to review in defining the role planetariums play. According to him, the planetarium's role has changed since the first ones were built. Tell how, then give three examples, cite the planetariums involved (one for each example), and describe in detail one example. (Hints: See paragraph three; then paragraphs four through seven, and ten; then paragraphs eleven and twelve.) (Tip: For particular ideas for the last activity, see paragraphs seventeen through twenty-five.)
  2. Describe the features of planetariums' "star projectors" and theaters. What is special about the "StarLab Theater"? (Hint: See paragraph eight.)
  3. See paragraph twenty-six, and indicate why planetarium educators are interested in the United States Academy of Sciences' draft proposal for national science education standards. Provide an example based on something you read in the "National Science Education Standards." (For example ideas, see planetarium Web sites noted in Question/Activity no. 5 below.) Extra Activity: Identify something of note in the "Planetarium Standards: Elevating the Profession" document, and suggest why it is important to consider in addition to the "National Science Education Standards." (Note: Both "standards" documents are found online as cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  4. See paragraphs forty-three through fifty-two. Identify and briefly describe one through seven of eight trends, and one hope that Manning sees or suggests for the future. Provide your own suggestions with relation to trends four through six. (Note: For something on trend five, see Question/Activity no. 7 below.)
  5. See paragraph thirteen. Manning says that people who work in planetariums "strive to educate" and "strive to enlighten." Explain why he says "to enlighten … is not quite the same as to educate," then give your own example illustrating Manning's comment. Describe how Manning applies the phrase "you can catch more flies with honey" to people and planetariums, then illustrate this idea with your own example. Identify the fourth thing that people working in planetariums strive to do, then give Manning's example, and provide one of your own. (For help, see a planetarium Web page cited at the Planetarium Reference Library's Planetarium Web Sites and Planetarium Compendium links; via the Sky and Telescope Magazine—Resources—Organizations, Planetariums, etc.; or via Web directories. Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below or in this book's Appendix E.) (Note: See also paragraphs fifty-seven and fifty-eight, starting with "In the planetarium profession" and "This is the role we play.")
  6. See paragraph fourteen. Manning comments that "In setting these goals, planetariums operate in all three realms of learning." Identify the three realms, and give an example for each. (Option: You may cite something that Manning cites in paragraph sixteen, then give particu-lars of your own.) In paragraph sixteen, what does Manning suggest using, where appropriate, to attract visitors? Provide your own examples of each (i.e., identify a theme, then make something creative based on that theme).
  7. See paragraph twenty-seven. How have planetariums' focus changed to feature other areas as well as astronomy? Identify four other areas, then give an example of one area stated here, and one area at a planetarium Web site (found as indicated in Question/Activity no. 5 above). Provide details for each.
  8. See paragraph twenty-eight. What is a new feature at planetariums? What unusual audience does it attract? How is this feature special in a unique way, and why might it have been liked by the author of the article "June Skies" featured in another chapter of this book?
  9. Manning notes some more, special, aspects to planetariums. Give his example(s) for each, where provided, then give your own examples for each. (Hints: Indoor/outdoor, night/day, and something "close to home," in paragraphs thirty-three, thirty-one, thirty, eleven, and forty-six. Unique Internet connections, in paragraphs thirty-four and thirty-eight. Special events and latest information in paragraphs thirty-five and thirty-eight. Models and exhibits in paragraphs thirty-six and thirty-seven.) (More hints: See the Web sites Space Calendar, Space—In the Spotlight, StarGazer, Skywatching Center, The Sky This Month, referred to in this book's chapter featuring the document "June Skies," specifically in that chapter's Question/Activity no. 2 and its Related Internet Sites section. In addition, study a planetarium site that you find via the Planetarium Reference Library's Planetarium Web Sites and Planetarium Compendium links; via Sky and Telescope Magazine—Resources—Organizations, Planetariums, etc.; or via planetarium Web directories' listings. Find their urls as stated in Question/Activity no. 5 above.)
  10. See paragraphs fifty-three through fifty-six. Which words did the nineteenth-century British writer Thomas Carlisle write which Manning quotes, and what have planetariums been doing, according to Manning, to answer Carlisle's question?
  11. Visit the Web sites on A Few Quotations Relevant to Astronomy and Astronomical Quotations. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Choose words by two writers (one literary and one scientific). Explain how the words of these writers are also fulfilled in planetariums. (For help, see Question/Activity no. 5 above, searching the planetarium Web sites referred to, studying the part that starts with the word "Identify," then noting the Note.)
  12. Find and explain the phrase "a sense of place" in Manning's document, paragraph three, Extra Activity: Identify the similarity of this phrase to the phrase "spirit of place" in an essay by the nineteenth-century British author Alice Meynell and online at Alice Meynell—"The Spirit of Place" and Other Essays Web site (especially in her first essay's paragraph five), cited in the Related Internet Sites section below. Describe how Meynell's similar phrase can apply to a planetarium too, even today early in the twenty-first century.


Sky and Telescope—Resources—Organizations, Planetariums, etc.


On this page, part of the Sky and Telescope Magazine Web site, scroll down to do a search for links to Web sites of planetariums, museums, observatories, clubs, and special interest organizations, by nation, or state/province and city.

Planetarium Web Sites and Planetarium Compendium via Planetarium Reference Library

http://www.lochness.com/pltref/pltref.html (scroll to links section)

Click Planetarium Web Sites link, or Planetarium Compendium link, then choose a state or nation link for a list of links to Web sites of planetariums in that place. Note also on the main page, links to FAQs and articles.

A Few Quotations Relevant to Astronomy


Quotations are from writers, both scientific (e.g., Richard Feynman) and literary (e.g., Antoine de St. Exupery and Shakespeare).

Astronomical Quotations


Features quotations by astronomers who have accomplished something of note in an area of astronomy (e.g., Edwin Hubble).

"National Science Education Standards"—Overview, etc. (1995)


The National Academy of Sciences features twelve introductory paragraphs, then a multi-part section on "Organization of the Standards" (e.g., on science content [including earth and space sciences], science teaching, professional development for science teachers, assessment in science education, educational programs and systems), and a look at the process of standardization "Toward the Future." Note also Principles and Definitions, Perspectives and Terms at http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/uses/html/2.html. (See also Science Curriculum Reform in the United States in Appendix C in this book.)

"Planetarium Standards: Elevating the Profession"


This document, by Mark C. Peterson of Loch Ness Productions, on "some thoughts about standardization," provides information gathered from a discussion panel at the July 2000 International Planetarium Society Conference.

Alice Meynell—"The Spirit of Place" and Other Essays


Among these literary essays by Meynell, a nineteenth-century British author, note her observations of a spirit of a place, and a horizon with the sky as an important part of it, written in a style that reveals a sharp insight similar to a scientist's perception.

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"The Role of Planetariums in Astronomy Education" Manning, James G. (1995)