“The universe is filled with fire, fury, and passion,” said planetarium director Eric Edelman in greeting. This is true, and it was proven in the Jim and Linda Lee Planetarium show, “Romance Among the Stars.” This Valentine’s Day-themed show, set to soft, romantic music reminiscent of the 1940s or ‘50s, is a beautiful representation of the universe and the stars within it.
To start, we hear the Greek mythological story of Cassiopeia and her daughter Andromeda. Cassiopeia was so proud and boastful of her daughter, she made Poseidon jealous, and he threatened to destroy their kingdom with a sea monster. Perseus after slaying Medusa, managed to save Andromeda and the two were wed. Their constellations show the story and are our first step into the romance behind the night sky.
“Why do we see romance among the stars?” is one of the main questions the show provides a perspective on. To start, pictures of nebulae, possibly the most beautiful aspects of the universe, make the shapes of hearts and roses. The combination of soothing narration, charming music, and stunning pictures relaxes the viewer and gives them a sense of bliss.
Further on, we learn that many stars are not alone in the cold reaches of space. Binary star systems are shown next and Edelman goes on to explain the life cycle of a star. From burning bright in life, to supernova in death, stars represent passion. We also see various stars shown against each other. Our Sun is dwarfed by other stars such as Rigel and Betelgeuse in the Orion constellation. The thoughts that come with this grand scale can lead to an existential crisis, which is decidedly less romantic than supernovae or planets.
Finally, the show concludes with the “heart” of our solar system: Pluto! A photo of Pluto showing its large, heart-shaped sea brings us back to an appreciative scale and reminds us of the closeness we feel with other people. The universe has many objects in groups or pairs, and so do we.
Overall the show was a very relaxing 30 minutes. Moreover, there was an option to go stargazing after the show and a small presentation from chemistry students. Unfortunately, it was too dark to use the telescopes, but the chemistry presentation was a pleasant addition. First, participants picked up heart-shaped pieces of paper with invisible ink on it. Spraying “love potion” on the paper revealed the secret writings. Cute sayings like “Kissies” and “Hugs?” make you go “aww.” The second part was a matching game where volunteers smelled bottles labeled with a chemical and tried to match them to their common name. Smells such as citrus and cinnamon added an enjoyable sensation to top off the night.
This show and subsequent presentation was a great weekend treat and yet another stunning show from the planetarium.