East Elementary School first-grade teacher Alisha Brown and her students gaze at the ceiling within the Sky Dome Planetarium Thursday afternoon. The Sky Dome is an educational presentation that will be available at Moffat County schools this week and open to the public Monday night at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

East Elementary School first-grade teacher Alisha Brown and her students gaze at the ceiling within the Sky Dome Planetarium Thursday afternoon. The Sky Dome is an educational presentation that will be available at Moffat County schools this week and open to the public Monday night at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

Sky Dome gives students indoor astronomy show in Craig

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If you go…

Sky Dome Planetarium

6:30 p.m., Monday

Boys & Girls Club of Craig

— The event is an educational exhibit about the night sky, including the planets and constellations of our solar system. The dome will also be set up at local elementary schools during the week. For more information, visit mobileedproductions.com.

When the sun goes down, all you need to do is look up to start the learning process as the sky begins to darken.

The wonders of outer space are part of the Sky Dome Planetarium, which has set up in Craig this week. The educational program, part of Mobile Ed Productions, is sponsored by Friends of Moffat County Education, which also brought the company’s geography- and geology-themed Earth Dome to Craig last year.

Local elementary schools each will get the chance to experience the presentation during this week, but any parents or community members wondering what the Sky Dome actually is will be able to see it in all its glory Monday night at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

The dome is an inflatable, bubble-like tent measuring 36 feet in diameter with ceilings 15-feet high at their lowest point. At its center stands a projector that casts images on the walls and ceiling of the thousands of stars and other celestial bodies within the Milky Way galaxy.

The 45-minute presentation discusses the planets of the solar system, as well as the various constellations and the ancient Greek myths that inspired them.

Handling the remote control that allows viewers to get a zoomed-in view of Saturn and its rings or see the outline of the figures of the Great Bear, the hero Perseus and the maiden Andromeda is host Robert Pirtle, who describes himself as an “entertaining educator.”

Pirtle’s spiel is attuned to different age groups and offers plentiful scientific information with an easy-going approach. One of the first things he informs the young audience is of the 93-million-mile distance between Earth and the sun, a field trip that would take 163 years traveling at a normal highway speed of 65 miles per hour.

“And, that’s with no rest stops,” he joked.

The students of East Elementary School experienced the show Thursday. The first-grade classes of teachers Alisha Brown and Peggy Green oohed and awed as the lights dimmed to reveal a forest at twilight at the beginning of the show, particularly delighted when Pirtle demonstrated a meteor shower toward the end of the program.

Green said she and her students thoroughly enjoyed the Sky Dome.

“We learned a lot about the solar system already, and they remembered a whole bunch of it,” she said.

The names and features of the planets already were firmly in the minds of most of the burgeoning astronomers. Green’s student Tess Villard said she remembered from class that Jupiter was the biggest of the eight regular planets.

“I liked seeing the pictures,” she said.

Classmates Sebastian Duarte and Stone Balleck also said they liked visuals of the planets. Sebastian prefers the red surface of Mars, while Stone goes for the blue tint of gas giants Uranus and Neptune.

“I learned the blue ones are poisonous, and they’re really cold,” Stone said.

Green added that she was glad to have such an exhibit as a teaching aid.

“I thought it was very beneficial for all of them,” she said.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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