BGSU Planetarium is hosting a multimedia show, called “Firefall” about the life of comets, asteroids and meteorites. The show presents the impact celestial bodies have had on the Earth and the universe, in the past and present.
The presentation, originally sourced by the University of Florida, speaks about the effect of these celestial bodies that encounter the Earth and its atmosphere. It also spoke of the Big Bang, the sun and other astronomical objects in the universe that have affected where the Earth and its present, and potentially future, state in the solar system lies.
“Thousands of space objects pass through the atmosphere each year on Earth but tend to burn in the atmosphere before even reaching the ground,” said Dale Smith, the BGSU Planetarium Director.
Before the start of the presentation, Smith introduced the brief science of the universe — from constellations to galaxies — he spoke about what may be seen from the Earth and what scientists know of the universe.
“We’re fortunate to live in a century with a North Star,” he said, referencing how the North Star has been a celestial figure that has guided humans for centuries, whether it was the wayfinders of Polynesia or Galileo observing the sky.
His astronomical spiel led to an open floor for students and guests to ask questions about the basics he shared and what people should know about the world beyond Earth.
The presentation started to speak about the life of space over the course of billions of years and the variety of space objects impact on Earth and other planets through the solar system. It also spoke about how in the modern day, these extraterrestrial objects may impact with Earth.
“In 2013, a small meteor exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia, generating a shock wave that injured more than 1,000 people and damaged around 4,000 structures, according to CNN. The NEO was unknown to space observatories prior to entering the atmosphere,” according to BG News Campus Editor, Hunter Huffman, who was reporting on the danger of near-earth asteroids.
The impact referenced by Huffman served as an example of the dangers the Earth faces each day as near-earth objects, also known as NEO’s are not simple to detect, perhaps at times, complex according to Huffman’s article.
The dangers presented in the show explained how undetected NEO’s can impact the Earth and how it has impacted the Earth, including the aftermath of the Chicxulub Crater. Buried beneath the Yucatán Peninsula in México, the large impact led to the during the extinction of the dinosaurs during the end of the Cretaceous period and the start of the Palogene, which is known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K–T) Extinction, according to Richard Cowen of University of California, Davis.
The presentation concluded, despite the dangers of NEO’s and other unknown space objects, there is still beauty in the sky from the objects.
“I thought it was very eye-opening. It allowed me to discover more about why Earth is the way it is and it gave me insight into how the Earth has evolved through the millions of years it's been here,” said Chloe Koon, a sophomore forensic science major.
The show demonstrated to Koon the good and the bad of space objects, the creation and destruction of the objects and the impact they’ve left on Earth. She found it interesting how we are not alone in the universe and how there are celestial bodies millions of years old, which are still affecting the Earth and encounter the Earth today.
“Next time you see a shooting star, make a wish and mourn its demise,” was the last statement made before the end of the presentation.
The BGSU Planetarium wants to provide students the opportunity to know what is occuring in the universe and the history that humankind comes from, Smith said.
The BGSU Planetarium will be holding more shows until Nov. 24. On Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at various times. Check the BGSU Planetarium web page for more information.