Penn State Behrend to Celebrate National Astronomy Day

Series of activities planned for Saturday, Sept. 19 

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will host an afternoon of solar observations and planetarium shows in astrorecognition of National Astronomy Day on Sept. 19.

The activities begin at noon in room 21 Witkowski of the School of Science Complex and are free and open to the public. The day’s events are hosted by Darren Williams, professor of physics and astronomy, and Jim Gavio, director of the Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend.

Williams will discuss the travels of interplanetary space probes and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Then, at 1:00, 2:30 and 3:15 p.m., planetarium shows will be shown, with a special discounted planetarium admission fee of $3.50 per adult and $2.50 for children 12 and younger. The schedule is as follows:

  • 1 p.m. — “Two Small Pieces of Glass”
  • 2:30 p.m. — “The World at Night”
  • 3:15 p.m. — “Two Small Pieces of Glass”

Meteorites will also be on display, and Williams and Jonathan Hall, senior lecturer in physics, will facilitate sunspot observing at the Mehalso Observatory. There is no fee to view the displays or participate in the solar observations.

“National Astronomy Day gives us the opportunity to bring astronomy to the people instead of forcing them to find it in some remote location late at night,” Gavio said. “Visiting a planetarium or seeing the sun, planets, or stars through a telescope for the first time can inspire students of all ages to love science and maybe even pursue it for a career.”

For more information, contact Gavio at 814-898-7268 or email

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