Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 9, 2018

Community Learn About Space, Music at ‘Universe at an Exhibition’

Matthew Barbosa


Manchester University invited the public community and three local school townships to enjoy activities hosted by various faculty members in celebration of the “Universe at an Exhibition: A Science and Symphony Event” VIA that attracted people to campus from around the town.

Before the main VIA events were open to the public, students ranging from fourth graders to high school seniors visited campus to learn more about astronomy, light and optics. The students had the chance to alternate through various stations posted around Cordier Auditorium, the observatory and the JYSC.

Cordier Auditorium’s lobby was decorated with a large array of handmade planetary models of the solar system. Students could walk through the wide variety of artistically made models to learn about the planets orbiting the sun in order. The planetary models eventually became the ambient attraction once Cordier was opened to the public. Nearly everyone who had arrived at the auditorium had one goal in mind: to retrieve fresh ice cream made in front of them with liquid nitrogen.

Members of the chemistry department generated plenty of smiling faces walking around the lobby of Cordier to enjoy the models displayed while eating their special ice cream. This spectacle was a fun one for everyone involved; there’s something about being able to make ice cream from room-temperature ingredients in an instant that has a way of grabbing people’s attention.

“Chemistry is fun, especially when you get to freeze stuff,” said senior chemistry major Ryan Demars, who was assisting Dr. Terrie Salupo-Bryant in making the ice cream.

The physics department was also keeping busy for the entire day due to Dr. Christer Watson taking on the responsibility of facilitating groups of students, which arrived at 10 a.m., through discussions about telescopes, optics, light and viewing space in day and night. “You might not think it’s time to do astronomy in the afternoon, so in the middle of the day we had activities to show how crazy light can behave,” Watson said.

Emily Milburn, Christopher Jacobs and this reporter assisted Watson with facilitating stations about using a solar filtered telescope to view the sun directly, using lenses to build a telescope by hand, watching video of viewing the moon through a telescope at night and performing a couple of thought experiments on the properties of light.

MU also brought in some outside help to install a pop-up planetarium, or a digitarium, in the upper JYSC. The digitarium is a small dome that has an air pump, which would be akin to bouncy houses, to keep the dome inflated. An assistant unzips the small dome to allow people to step inside of this small isolation chamber and viewers are greeted by a powerful projector in the middle of the dome that casts the night sky across the entirety of the inside of the dome. An astronomer facilitated discussion and viewing of the night sky by simulating different periods in the night ahead.