Help via Ko-Fi


CENTURIES of celestial history wheeled across the plaster sky of the sew Adler planetarium at Chicago, recently, at the dedication of the astronomical institution, the first of its kind is the Western Hemisphere.

A modern Joshua, working the levers and switches of a complicated instrument, commanded a miniature sun to stand still is the heavens—and it did. He bettered the feat of the Biblical prophet by stopping the sun at any given point on Its orbit across the skies and then ran it lackward, its attendant planets, planetoids ad stars scampering contrary to all rules of the universe.

The Joshua in the person of Professor Philip Fox, director of the planetarium on a "made" island in Lake Michigan, described the instrument with which he made the heavenly bodies cut capers, as a projector, made in Germany at a cost of almost $100,000. As nearly as it can be described by a layman it looks like three immense diving helmets, capping the ends of a tube about six feet long. Each "helmet" is studded with lenses and inside are complicated and strange lights ad projectors which throw the images of the celestial bodies on the white piaster dome above that represents the skies, lbs wheeling motion of the universe toward the west is obtained by revolving the "helmets" in eccentric circles on an axis. The whole effect makes a spectator feel as if the solar system was revolving wound him at a greatly accentuated speech.

As a beginning lesson for the layman who attended the opening. Professor Fox set the machine to represent the latitude of Chicago on May 10, 1930. Every one turned his eyes to the east, where a silhouette of Lake Michigan, with its lighthouses and ore ships, is painted on the plaster horizon. The dome was lighted to represent a clear night, and, incidentally, all nights are clear in a planetarium. The machine was started and up from the center of the Lake jumped Mars, red against the darkness.

Professor Fox, with a flashlight that throws the image of an arrow, pointed out the stars as they appeared over the dome. The coming of Mars forecast the dawn of May 10 and in a few moments the sun emerged from its proper latitudinal position out of the lake and blazed its way across the heavens and set behind the silhouette of the Standard Oil Building on the west wall of the dome in less than a minute, denoting that the day had passed in review. At 3:43 p. m., central standard time, the midget moon arose and sailed its course and then set behind the darkened picture of the Straus Tower.

Then Professor Fox ran off Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for good measure, each time with Mare heralding the dawn and the sun changing position as it does in reality. Fifty centuries of astronomical history can be run off in an hour by the machine. The planets are visible during the day in the planetarium as well as night.