Save Guam’s Planetarium

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Guam’s skies at night are possibly the most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen. The bright stars caught my eye when I first arrived. For months, I followed Venus which was passing through the sky and would pass in front of the sun, something that won’t happen again for over a hundred years. We even built a special apparatus to help us look at the sun without damaging our eyes, hmm that didn’t work too well. I have never seen more shooting stars than I have in Guam, and boy do I need those wishes! I look up at the sky and wonder what those bright stars/planets are. I even see tons of satellites passing by quickly, wondering when they will pass my loved ones in Oregon.

As usual, I was reading the star lady’s column in the Marianas Variety newspaper. This time, she had some sad news. The planetarium, which she runs, would be closing in the spring time. Why? Because the University of Guam needed the space and didn’t see how it fit in with their curriculum. Understandable, but a bad decision. If you’ve ever been to UOG, it looks a bit depressing and run down. I had thought about going to graduate school until I saw the campus and lack of programs. The only thing that brought me to the campus was the planetarium. I’m sure this is how many people living on Guam are introduced to UOG, through the planetarium . When I heard the news, I decided it was time to take a trip to the planetarium. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because the planetarium had reached full capacity (75 people) and there were more people who had to be turned away.

Pam Eastlick, often referred to as The Star Lady, was very stern when we walked in. It felt as though I was back in middle school. “Find a seat, but don’t sit in the aisle because I need to walk through! Turn off your phones! There’s no more room! Quiet down!” Th planetarium is a regular college-sized classroom with steps instead of seats. You have to lie down somehow on the steps to look up into the sky. Once she turned off the lights and started the prerecorded tape, the guide through outer space began. So much information to take but my questions had been answered. Every evening when I look up into the sky I see a bright start, which is actually the planet Jupiter. I also see a flashing star which is Sirius and it flashes because of the ocean water and humidity that makes it look like it’s flashing different colors from Guam. I also found Orion’s belt!

After that, The Star Lady met us outside where she answered our questions about the sky and pointed out planets and stars. There were so many children who genuinely seemed enthused and in awe by the sky and what they had just learned.

I hope that they don’t close the planetarium. I hope that they don’t move it and if they do that there is a plan in place to move it immediately and not put it off. What a travesty it would be for Guam to lose it’s planetarium. The closest planetarium is 1500 miles away! Few things in Guam are affordable, let alone free. So why would the University get rid of this planetarium? It brings students and non students to the campus and Guam’s skies are PERFECT star gazing skies.

Even if you haven’t been to Guam, please send a friendly email to  cmoore@uguam.uog.org and jmacapinlac@uguam.uog.org  and let them know that UOG NEEDS this planetarium

Thank you! Oh and please visit the planetarium if you are on Guam.

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