TJC's Real-time universe Experience - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

TJC's Real-time universe Experience

TJC's Real-time universe Experience

Robert Parish controls your destination. Robert Parish controls your destination.

Tyler Junior College can fly you through the rings of Saturn, or to the edge of the Milky Way Galaxy at warp speed.

Well, not literally, but it sure looks like it.

The Center for Earth and Space Science Education has a feature at their planetarium that is out of this world.

Robert Parish, the Assistant Director of the Center for Earth and Space Science Education, is not a pilot, and he’s not playing a video game. He’s flying through a virtual universe which is virtually our universe.

“It’s all real-time data, so everything that’s being projected onto the dome at that particular moment is how it would be in space if you were at that location,” Parish explained.

So everything out there is the same as it is in here; inside the planetarium. It’s thanks to Digistar 5 software.

It calculates where our planets are and stars 30 to 40 deep outside our solar system, after that it sort of guesses.

“One particular thing about our planetarium that is unique is that we can leave the earth and travel around to other planets, whereas an analogue old-style planetarium cannot. They could just show you the stars as they would appear on Earth, where we can show the stars as they would appear anywhere in the universe,” Parish said.

“As you’re orbiting Saturn you could see what the stars would look like from Saturn,” I observed.

“Exactly, and they are slightly shifted. The further you go out, say if you go to Pluto they’ll be even more shifter. It’s called parallax where starts appear to shift relative to the background stars,” Parish stated.

And yes, they even have smaller astronomical objects.

“Are there asteroids flying around in there?” I asked Parish.

“Oh yes, we have several,” he replied.

“Should we be worried?” I countered.

“Oh, no, no,” Parish laughed.

The software even has the capability to fly over a planet’s terrain, so Robert took us on a little tour of Mars. And yes, we crashed, but there was no permanent damage.

Every day at 2pm during the summer they show East Texas Live Sky which is what it sounds like, but then you get to leave Earth and tour the solar system.

And I hear if you ask the presenter nicely before the show they may take you to your favorite planet.

Tickets are $12 and $9 for kids. Shows start at11 amm and the last one is at 5pm. They have three different shows right now plus East Texas Live Sky, and one ticket is good for all shows for the day.

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