Mt. Hood Community College Planetarium Show Offers ‘Wonders of the Fall Sky’

Posted: September 9, 2013

The Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) Planetarium opens the year with more great public shows, a move to a new night and coming soon, a state-of-the-art projection system.

Live shows will be presented the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m., 7:15 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of planetarium shows, please visit

In “Wonders of the Fall Sky,” Oct. 1, Pat Hanrahan, Planetarium director, will show visitors how to locate the planets, nebulae, galaxies, star clusters and a current star nova in the night sky.

“Fall brings some spectacular galaxies that are currently high in the sky,” says Hanrahan. “At the same time, there are some star clusters that oddly resemble organized structures and nebulae that are especially beautiful.”

“Wonders of the Fall Sky” will be presented in the MHCC Planetarium Sky Theater, located beneath the library on the Gresham Campus, 26000 S.E. Stark Street. Admission for the general public is $2. Admission is free for MHCC students and employees (identification required). Campus parking is free.

November Show Will Introduce New Projection System

For the November show, there will be a major change in the planetarium as it is currently in the process of a major modification. It is being upgraded to a multi-projector digital display which is similar to that which was recently installed for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. The theme for the Nov. 5 planetarium show will be “Introducing the Sky with Our New Star Projection System.” The existing Spitz star projection system will remain operational as backup after the modification is complete.

Visitors are encouraged to ask questions during each 45-minute program. Children are welcome to attend. The planetarium is wheelchair accessible.

Individuals requiring accommodations due to a disability may 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.

This sharp cosmic portrait features NGC 891. The spiral galaxy spans about 100,000 light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way. At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. The combined image data also reveal the galaxy's young blue star clusters and telltale pinkish star-forming regions. And remarkably apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also be seen near this galaxy's disk.

The Ring Nebula in Cygnus represents the fate of our sun in the very distant future. The gaseous shroud resulted from outer layers that were expelled from the dying, once sun-like star. Intense ultraviolet light from the hot central star makes the shroud glow. The Ring Nebula is about one light-year across and 2,000 light-years away.

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

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 Last Modified: 9/17/2013 10:39:52 AM