FINAL COMMUNIQUE FROM THE PLANETARIUM DIRECTOR

The Edwin Clark Schouweiler Memorial Planetarium closed in August 2016 and is now non-existent as a facility.The University intends to repurpose the domed room as part of the new construction/renovation of the Achatz Hall of Science.

The Planetarium staff has overseen the decommission process which was complete this summer. Through cooperative efforts 98 percent of the planetarium equipment and show resources have been made available to interested outside facilities and parties.

Science Central of Fort Wayne received the Schouweiler internal projection dome, the Spitz A4 star projector and control console, a number of the original brute force special effects projectors and a couple of slide projectors. We look forward to Science Central’s future use of this equipment in a planetarium room in their facility.

A few years ago, a Bluffton area group now known as “The Upper Wabash Conservation and Science Center,” acquired the projection dome and Spitz AP3 projector from Norwell High School. From the Schouweiler they received the automated slide, video and special effects projection systems and computers installed since 2003, all Schouweiler shows, show production equipment and computers, and spare slide projectors. The present hopes are to begin offering updated Schouweiler shows to the public and educational groups once the Center and its planetarium are up and running a few years hence.

This future hope for two new classic planetariums in northeast Indiana, rising “Phoenix Like” from the Schouweiler Planetarium is possible because of the unflagging dedication and work of longtime Schouweiler staffers, Technician Sydnee Hamrick and Staff Artist Jackie Baughman.

Jackie and Sydnee worked tirelessly during the transition. They inventoried, removed and disassembled every piece of equipment, mounting shelves, cabinets, cables and automation interfaces, including those behind the dome. These dedicated staffers also packed materials and equipment and made sure it was accounted for when it went out the door to the recipients. Planetarium Educator Brad Mason also assisted Sydnee and Jackie during this time. I am deeply indebted to these two colleagues for their intensive work over the last several years.

In the meantime, I can enthusiastically recommend patronizing Ball State University’s three-year old Charles Brown Memorial Planetarium. It is a fantastic new facility with both full dome color video and an optical-mechanical projector for the natural, real star appearance that a video sky can never duplicate. The two systems are “hybridized” and work together via computers.

The Charles Brown staff is dedicated to planetarium experiences led by staff and hands on experiences. The Brown does public shows throughout the year. They are also available for privately booked school and educational groups. The planetarium does not charge for private school groups, which may help offset fuel costs for traveling groups.

This Schouweiler Planetarium website will remain available through June 30, 2017.

Should the Cosmos surprise us with a new astronomical event or discovery, we will try to post it on our featured events page. For now, I would like to remind you of two 2016-17 featured events we have just added to our site.

In 2016, Indiana is celebrating its Bicentennial. Hoosiers have an official Bicentennial Star: Scheat, AKA: Beta Pegasi. You can see Sheat any clear night this fall. Read more and find other resources on our Featured Events page.

August 21, 2017 there will be an “eclipse of the century” for the United States. This total eclipse of the sun will have a path of totality that begins on the Oregon coast and ends on the Carolina coast. The totality centerline passes through Kentucky. Read more and discover resources on our Featured Events page.

In Fort Wayne, the partial eclipse will be about 87 percent. Book your room soon if you are planning to spend August 21 in Kentucky when the stars come out during the day.

Thank you for your loyal support of the Schouweiler during its over four decades serving the community.

In the first decade and a half of the 21st century, your attendance at public shows and your chartering of private planetarium experiences for educational and community groups enabled us to: have an annual Star machine PM service agreement with the best planetarium service provider on the planet, funded other normal maintenance, allowed purchase of additional spare last generation slide projectors for the future and funded all new show development and production costs.

Your patronage also provided funds to send planetarium educators and our former Technician Chris Highlen to continuing education experiences provided by the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the International Planetarium Society.

Thank you. I shall miss meeting you, working with you, and chatting with you after planetarium programs.

As that great public planetarium educator and TV astronomy popularizer the late Jack Horkheimer always said, “Keep Looking Up!”

Alan V. Pareis
Edwin Clark Schouweiler Memorial Planetarium
Producer 2000-2016
Director 2001-2016

Transit of Mercury

The University of Saint Francis Schouweiler Planetarium and the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society (FWAS) invite the community to join them throughout the morning and early afternoon on Monday, May 9 to safely view the Transit of Mercury. A Transit of Mercury occurs when the Earth, Mercury and Sun align in such a way that over the course of several hours, Mercury can be seen as a tiny dot moving across the disk of the Sun.

To attempt to see this event without special equipment will result in blindness, so the FWAS and USF Schouweiler Planetarium will provide four special viewing locations.

Site Information:

  • 7 – 9 a.m. – Kreager Park, North River Road, East Parking lot area
  • 10 a.m. – 2:33 p.m. (end of transit) – Freimann Square, downtown
  • 10 a.m. – 2:33 p.m. (end of transit) – University of Saint Francis parking lot on south side of Hutzell Athletic Center off Leesburg Road
  • 11 a.m. – 2:33 p.m. (end of transit) – Parks and Recreation Community Center, 233 West Main Street

PLEASE NOTE: In order to see the Transit of Mercury, observers will need to be able to see the Sun. If it is very overcast, raining, or there is a threat of immediate rain, there will be no viewing. If it is partly cloudy, we will attempt to view the event. Any immediate threat of rain will result in closure of the viewing site to protect the observing equipment.

Planetarium Closing

The Edwin Clark Schouweiler Memorial Planetarium is closing May 31, 2016. Teachers seeking student learning opportunities may consider art gallery guided tours. For scheduling contact 260.399.7700, ext. 8001, or mmcgowan@sf.edu.

WinterFest 2016

Thanks to all who came to our WinterFest 2016 events. We hoped you enjoyed your time at the Schouweiler as much as we enjoyed meeting and talking with you.

Thanks for the many “out of towners” who made the special effort to come, some making the repeat trip both weeks.

Our next scheduled public shows are the two weekends of Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Festival: July 8-10 and 15-16.

We will be having one or more special events related to the Transit of Mercury, which occurs on Monday, May 9, 2016. While not as rare as Transits of Venus, Mercury transits occur infrequently.

A transit of Mercury is when the planet Mercury can be seen as it passes in front of the Sun from the vantage point of the Earth. May’s transit will take place during most of the morning of the 9th. It can only be viewed with the special equipment that is used to protect the eyes when viewing eclipses of the Sun.

At this writing the Schouweiler is in conversation with its colleagues of the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society about jointly operating one or more Transit viewing stations in the Fort Wayne area.  Periodically check this site as the transit date approaches for information about where you will be able to safely view this year’s transit of Mercury.

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