MHCC Planetarium Presents a Unique Look at the Night Sky

Posted: January 3, 2013

The monthly planetarium show at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) will focus on “The Beauty of the Visible and Invisible Night Sky,” Feb. 4, at 26000 SE Stark Street in Gresham.

“We are used to viewing the night sky through normal visible light,” says Pat Hanrahan, planetarium director. “However, NASA and a number of earth-based observatories have imaged the sky at a variety of other wavelengths that are not visible (or are poorly visible) to the human eye.”

The program will include a number of very dramatic photographs: Ancient supernovae appear brilliant when viewed in X-ray imagery; the Milky Way appears as if it is on fire when viewed from infrared dust map imagery; and huge star-forming regions appear brilliant when looked at from deep red (hydrogen-alpha) imagery.

“The sky is beautiful when viewed from these new wavelengths,” says Hanrahan.

Using the planetarium’s dome, the program will also examine planets and constellations in the current night sky and provide an update on the comet Panstarrs.

Show times are 7 and 8:15 p.m. Admission for the general public is $2 and free for MHCC students. (Student identification required.) Campus parking is free, all days and all times on all MHCC campuses, no permit required. Children are welcome (and encouraged) to attend. The planetarium is wheelchair accessible. Visitors are always encouraged to ask questions during each 45-minute program.

Planetarium shows are held the first Monday of each month, October through June. The schedule may be found at

Individuals requiring accommodations due to a disability should contact the MHCC Disability Services Office at 503-491-6923 or 503-491-7670 (TDD). Please call at least two weeks prior to the event to ensure availability.

The same region as viewed through a deep red (hydrogen alpha) filter as viewed from surface-based observatories. Here, new star forming regions are the areas glowing brightly. As we can see, they are relatively common along the central part of the Milky Way.

The constellations of Sagittarius and Scorpius as viewed from NASA’s Digitized Sky Survey (normal visible light). Here we can see the brighter area of the Milky Way with a dark dust lane obscuring our view of the central part of our galaxy.

This shows the same area as the “visible” photo, viewed from NASA’s far infrared sky survey, we see evidence of the disk shape of our galaxy as the central dust lane glows quite brilliantly.

For more information, please contact the Office of College Advancement, 503-491-7204 or

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 Last Modified: 1/9/2013 01:38:18 PM