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Out of this world

September 23, 2009

Southfield Public Library one of two

in Michigan to get astronomy exhibit

SOUTHFIELD — The Southfield Public Library will be exploring everything from the Earth to the moon, and all that surrounds them, with a special exhibit that opens this week.

“Visions of the Universe: 400 Years of Discovery” is an interactive display made possible by NASA, through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Massachusetts and the American Library Association in Illinois.

“We were one of 40 libraries all over the U.S. who (were) chosen to have this display here,” said Jane Sloan of the library’s community outreach department.

Only one other library in the state — in Alpena — was selected to host the exhibit. 

“This is the international year of astronomy, and we thought it would be fun to celebrate that,” said Kelly Ireland, Southfield’s outreach librarian. “Space is something that all ages can celebrate. Every night you walk out and look up at the stars, and whether you’re 2 or 99, you can appreciate it.”

The exhibit details the last 400 years of astronomy and space exploration.

“Everyone always has a fascination with the sky,” Ireland said. “It’s something you can’t reach out and grab, and it has that air of mystery to it — people always want to find out more, and this exhibit will help you find out more.”

From Galileo’s initial findings to the latest findings of the Hubble Space Telescope, patrons will get an overview of everything space-related, and part of the exhibit will be interactive.

“There are tons of space giveaways and books and DVDs available to check out, so you can continue learning even after the exhibit,” Ireland said.

The display, located in the circulation lobby, was officially unveiled Sept. 23 with a reception featuring a special performance by the Detroit Metro Youth Ensemble Handbell Choir.

The library has also planned programs for all ages that tie into the exhibit.

At 7 p.m. Oct. 6, the library will present “Astronomy 101: The Universe for Beginners of All Ages.” The event will include a basic discussion on outer space and how to start looking at and learning about astronomy, featuring John Schroer, planetarium education coordinator for the Detroit Science Center.

Mike Best, a local astronomer who runs the Vollbrecht Planetarium and who was chosen by the Space Telescope Science Institute to help search for UFOs, will speak about his experiences at 2 p.m. Oct. 10.

A Target Family Movie Night is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 featuring “Muppets From Space.”

At 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, the library will partner with the Vollbrecht Planetarium, located right next to Adler Elementary School.

“They’ll be able to look up at the ceiling and see all the stars — it’s very cool; they can show how the stars are on any night in the year,” Ireland said.

Seating is limited for this program; interested library patrons are asked to register beforehand, starting Oct. 13.

At 7 p.m. on Nov. 17, the library will present “To the Moon and Beyond,” with Michael Foerster discussing the moon, including lunar exploration of the past and present, and what is planned for the future.

All of the programs at the library are free to the public.

The Southfield Public Library is located in the Southfield Municipal Complex, at 26300 Evergreen Road. For more information, visit or call (248) 796-4240.


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