The Arnim D. Hummel Planetarium at Eastern Kentucky University is, according to their website, “One of the largest and most sophisticated planetariums in the United States.”
The planetarium opened on Nov. 16, 1988 and has grown since then as technology has changed. Today, the planetarium uses the Definiti Theater’s projection system to bring the night sky to life on their 67.5 feet dome.
From programs for children to programs for higher education, the Hummel Planetarium provides formal and informal educational shows for students studying science. Along with the yearly laser light shows accompanied to popular music and their holiday program events, the planetarium provides programs for academic classes and for the general public.
Planetarium educator Aida Bermudez, said that she has seen a rising trend in middle and high school students attending the planetarium.
“With the older students coming in, it’s easier to give them the EKU experience. So you’re coming to the planetarium? Why not take a tour of the campus?” Bermudez said.
The next event scheduled for the Planetarium is the Halloween celebration called “Spooky Stars” on Friday, Oct. 25. The show starts at 7 p.m. with the “Perfect Little Planet Planetarium” Show that follows a family from another star system seeking the perfect vacation spot in our solar system. The show takes a tour of each of our solar system’s planets while the family decides which to choose for their vacation. Afterwards, a star talk will show what is visible in the night sky over Richmond. At 8 p.m., each child will receive a pumpkin bucket to paint like a galaxy and to take home to use for trick-or-treating.
Bermudez says after Spooky Stars, the planetarium will host their annual laser light shows, which are very popular.
“We have several laser light shows,” said Bermudez. “The Beatles, Metallica and this year we’ve added Queen, but Pink Floyd is always the show that sells out. Those start Nov. 1. That’s our first one; we start off with Pink Floyd.”
Bermudez is in charge of training student workers, coordinating community events and keeping the Hummel Space Shop stocked and neat. Student workers at the Planetarium have a wide variety of responsibilities. Currently two EKU students are employed to take reservations and to help with hands-on activities and education. They are trained in every aspect of the planetarium operations, but are also required to have experience talking to the public and have strong public speaking skills.
Dusty Weigold, a student worker at the planetarium and a junior homeland security major from California said that they offer a wide variety of information.
“Not a whole lot of people know about the planetarium and that it is the largest one in Kentucky. Just coming to see us they’ll learn a whole lot more than just what’s going on in space,” said Weigold.
Kelsie Doss, another student worker and junior art education major from Monticello, said the planetarium is a great on-campus job for students.
“Even though [it’s] not my major, I love working at the planetarium,” said Doss.
Bermudez said EKU students who are interested in working at the planetarium do not have to be interested in science, but can be from any major.
“Any EKU student can work at the planetarium,” said Bermudez.
For more information about Eastern Kentucky University’s Hummel Planetarium, visit their website at https://planetarium.eku.edu.