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Posted: Tuesday Aug 21, 2012

August 21, 2012

Saint Vincent College will present four planetarium shows this fall in the Angelo J. Taiani Planetarium and Astronaut Exhibit in the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion on the campus of Saint Vincent College. Admission is free and open to the public.

The one-hour shows, all scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., include Early Fall Sky Show and Two Small Pieces of Glass on Saturday, Sept. 8; Fall Sky Show and Dynamic Earth, Saturday, Oct. 13; Fall Sky Show and Dynamic Earth, Saturday, Nov. 10; and Late Fall Sky Show and Dynamic Earth, Saturday, December 8. All of the shows will also feature The Sky Over Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood at 12:30 p.m.

Each show lasts about one hour and begins with a tour of the season’s night sky conducted by one of the faculty members in astronomy from the College’s Department of Physics, Dr. John Smetanka or Dr. Daniel Vanden Berk. Selected deep sky objects – star clusters, nebula and galaxies – will be viewed along with simulated trips to planets and moons in the solar system. The shows will end with a 25-minute theatrically-produced full-dome immersive video.

A second, 30-minute show appropriate for children age 3 to 10, The Sky Over Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, will be presented at 12:30 p.m. on each date. The show will explore the sky with Mr. Rogers and the animated characters from the land of make believe.

Because of limited seating, advance reservations are requested and may be made by contacting the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing at 724 805-2631. Private shows for groups of 15 to 35 people may also be scheduled at other times by contacting the Boyer School. Scout groups who wish to fulfill requirements for merit badges are especially encouraged to make appointments.

The Angelo Taiani Planetarium and Astronaut Exhibit is the centerpiece of the glass-walled atrium entrance to the Dupré Pavilion. The state-of-the-art planetarium was made possible by a gift from Angelo Taiani, a 1948 graduate of Saint Vincent who enjoyed a successful career as an aerospace engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Mr. Taiani wanted the new planetarium and exhibit to bring recognition to the nation’s space program and serve Saint Vincent students as well as the western Pennsylvania area and beyond. Space exploration will dominate our nation’s future. NASA’s goal is to go to Mars as soon as a new launch vehicle can be developed, perhaps as early as 2020. It is hoped that this new facility will help Saint Vincent students as well as young area students get excited about the importance of interplanetary space exploration and the career opportunities available in this field. One of the objectives of space exploration is the search for extraterrestrial life and that exploration will eventually discover planets like the Earth, light years away where life may exist.

Mr. Taiani, a native of Latrobe and a graduate of Latrobe High School, served three years in the Navy during World War II and retired as a Navy Commander with 41 years of reserve service. He first became interested in aerospace when he was assigned to work with early guided missiles and space ordnance as a project officer for the first ten Jupiter launches. He returned to Saint Vincent and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from SVC in 1948. He also did graduate study at George Washington University.

He worked on numerous projects at NASA as a general space engineer, in test support at Cape Canaveral and later the Kennedy Space Center on the Juno project. He also worked in support of the Space Shuttle program. He retired in 1984 after a 34-year career with the space agency. He still lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and enjoys volunteering to give tours of NASA facilities to journalists. He has known many of the astronauts, from Buzz Aldrin to Alan Poindexter, and has been an avid collector of photographs of the astronauts and launchings. Many of these have been given to Saint Vincent for display in the planetarium.

The planetarium projector system was purchased from the Spitz Corporation, based in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, a leader in planetarium technology. The planetarium features the latest digital technology that can not only project the nighttime sky but can also take viewers on a tour of the solar system.


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