Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Planetarium Offers Star of Bethlehem Shows, Seeks Scholarship Donations
Dec. 17, 2010



FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama Planetarium and Observatory will present a Star of Bethlehem show Dec. 18-23, in which students, faculty/staff and community members will discuss the origins of the star, seek to understand the astrological beliefs and the wise men, and experience a December constellation tour.

The Star of Bethlehem program, which will take place Dec. 18-19 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 20, 22 and 23 at 7 p.m., has been a traditional holiday excursion for the UNA and Shoals-area communities for the last three years. Admission to the show is $3 and will take place in the Planetarium and Observatory on the UNA campus.

“This is a traditional planetarium show that is done at almost every planetarium in the country,” said Dr. Mel Blake, assistant professor of physics, earth science and astronomy. “The program is intended for general audiences, and some people come back every year to see it.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to explore the Christmas star and the possible date in which it would have been spotted by the wise men. In addition to the Star of Bethlehem program, visitors will have the chance to view a total lunar eclipse that will be visible in Florence Dec. 21 at 12:30 a.m.

The Department of Physics and Earth Science is also seeking donations for a fund in order to replace about 60 planetarium chairs and provide scholarships for students within the department.

According to Blake, there is a shortage of physicists in the United States, even though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16 percent employment increase, which is faster than the average of all other jobs, from 2008 to 2018. In order to arouse more interest in the department, Blake hopes that establishing a scholarship fund will give students further incentive to study physics-related fields.

Donors can contribute $700 for a single chair replacement and scholarship donation. They can also donate on the planetary level at $1-$199, the stellar level at $200-$499, the nebular level at $500-$999 or the galaxy level at $1,000 and higher.

For more information about the Star of Bethlehem program, contact the Planetarium and Observatory at 256-765-4284 or e-mail rmblake@una.edu. To donate to the scholarship fund, contact the UNA Foundation at 256-765-4670.