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MSUM planetarium looking forward to busy October as anniversary celebration nears

Oct. 29 celebration marks end to 100-day campaign

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MSUM planetarium staff and volunteers dress up for "The Skies Over Hogwarts" each year.
Photo courtesy of Sara Schultz
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MOORHEAD — October is typically a busy month at the MSUM planetarium thanks to a variety of Halloween-themed events, and this year the festivities will be capped by a 50th anniversary celebration on Oct. 29.

Before that happens, though, the planetarium is hosting a Homecoming LaserFest with DJ 1PrettyRicky on Saturday from 8 p.m. to midnight.

"It's going to be a unique and very interesting event," said Director Sara Schultz. "We're going to have a laser light show, but it won't be premade. The visuals will be live and the dj will be playing music during it."

MSUM students who volunteer at the planetarium will be running the lasers, and Schultz recognized that the timeframe of the event might not be conducive to families with young children. She also cautioned those who are photosensitive to be careful if they are planning to attend.

Kicking off the monthly activities with a laser show is deliberate because the planetarium's day of online giving "Let's Get Lasers!" on Oct. 27 has a goal of raising $50,000, which will be used to purchase a laser system.

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"Right now we're borrowing one," Schultz said. "We want the homecoming fest to be a teaser to the types of things we can do with our system."

The planetarium is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album with a special show called "50 Years of Planetariums & Pink Floyd: Laser Dark Side of the Moon" on Oct. 7 and Oct. 21.

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The planetarium may host future events combining science and art.
Photo courtesy of Sara Schultz

Don't forget "Spooky Space" on Oct. 20, which is a fun, "not too scary" 30-minute show with a laser teaser at the end, Schultz said. "The Skies Over Hogwarts" is back, so Harry Potter fans are invited to come dressed as their favorite characters. Schulz and her approximately 20 student volunteers always have a lot of fun at those events.

A full schedule of events, showtimes and tickets can be found online .

Fifty years ago, MSUM built the planetarium to serve astronomy and physics students, but soon the public interest was high enough that programming was put in place, Schultz explained. She's been director since 2014, and she hopes the planetarium will help inspire the next generation of space explorers.

"The planetarium is so much more than the night sky; it's a diverse, creative space and offers an immersive feeling you don't get anywhere else," Schultz said. "It's so cool."

The public is invited to a free talk called “Looking back – the start of the Moorhead Planetarium and Looking Forward – a Near-Term Settlement on the Moon” at 8 p.m. on Oct. 28.

In thinking about how far space exploration has come in the last 50 years, Schultz said she's excited about the planetarium's future and hopes to bring in programming that celebrates science and art as well as different cultures. But she knows the planetarium's future is inextricably tied to the community and its support.

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"Our anniversary shirts have a quote on it: 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,' " Schultz explained. "We want to go another 50, 100, 150 years, but we didn't get this far on our own and we need continued support to go far into the future."

Financial contributions to the planetarium are wonderful, but that's not the only way to show support.

"We need people to know we’re doing cool things," she said. "Monetary help is appreciated but so is coming and then telling people about it."

Danielle Teigen has a bachelor's degree in journalism and management communication as well as a master's degree in mass communication from North Dakota State University. She has worked for Forum Communications since May 2015, first as a digital content manager before becoming the Life section editor and then deputy editor. She recently moved back to her hometown in South Dakota, where she works remotely for Forum Communications as managing editor of On the Minds of Moms.
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