Intergalactic endeavors and secret lives of stars

On July 1, the Willard Greer Planetarium hosted a show outside of its normal schedule, showing the programs “Stars” and “The Secret Lives of Stars,” two shows about stars, how they came into being and the physics and history surrounding them. The guide, Pat Beatie, a long-time amateur astronomer, was in charge of the show and performed his own short presentation on the skies above Bellevue.
The first of the two shows, “Stars, the Powerhouses of the Universe” was narrated by Mark Hamill and was the shorter of the two shows. Running 26 minutes long, it was almost completely done in CGI. It began “inside” of a star, detailing a photon’s trip from the center of the star to the surface before showing the star going supernova. For the most part, the video dealt with the history of astronomy and especially this history of stars and human’s perceptions of the stars, especially the constellations. The video was “guided” by two CGI characters, a boy, who takes the form of everything from a Native American brave to Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. The video was highly stylized, and despite some of the more complicated concepts it presented, it usually presented the facts in a very simple, kid-friendly way. It was to be expected, however, as the show is rated for children five and up.
“The Secret Lives of Stars” was the second show in the lineup. It was narrated by the actor Patrick Stewart, well known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and had a more serious tone than the previous show. For example, while the previous show used little to no actual pictures, “The Secret Lives of Stars” was almost entirely made up of actual pictures taken by the Hubble Telescope. In addition, while the first show did include information on how stars are made and the physics behind them, “The Secret Lives of Stars” focused on this, explaining what the life, lifespan and possible deaths of stars are like, going into detail regarding nebulae, quasars and black holes. Due to Patrick Stewart’s role as Picard, there were a few Star Trek puns thrown into the mix for better or for worse.
Finally, Pat Beatie, gave a short lecture as well as a tour of the night sky in Bellevue. While it is unusual to have a clear night to go stargazing, it is possible with the help of technology to get a view of the night sky whether there are clouds in the sky or not. During his presentation he pointed out a number of stars and other bodies visible in the night sky, including various constellations (Andromeda, Cassiopeia, the Big Dipper, etc.), the Zodiac signs and stars such as Betelgeuse, Rigel and Algol. Pat also works as a volunteer at Mt. Rainier where he directs stargazing shows.
While this show was held on a Tuesday, shows are normally held on the last Friday of each month, and are free to the public as long as reservations are made in advance.