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UT seeks Toledoans’ planetarium memories to celebrate 50th anniversary of astronomy program

The University of Toledo is asking families across northwest Ohio to share their stories or memories of Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory to be used as part of the astronomy program’s 50th anniversary celebration.

“We are planning to celebrate a major milestone and are in need of the public’s help to share our rich history of education, outreach and celestial exploration,” said Dr. Jillian Bornak, associate lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and chair of the UT Astronomy 50th Anniversary Committee. “We’re in search of your stories and memories to better tell our story. What do you remember from your visit?”

Did you attend any of the special events, such as for Apollo 11 and the impact of the Shoemaker-Levy comet on Jupiter? Have you taken your family to experience programs in the planetarium or public viewings with telescopes in the observatories?

“As a child, my first visit to a planetarium involved marveling at one of the old ‘star ball’ projectors, but since then I have enjoyed being transported to black holes and other worlds with increasingly beautiful full-dome movies. These visits certainly had an impact on me, for I went on to earn my doctorate in astronomy,” Bornak said.

The Ritter facility was dedicated on Oct. 13, 1967. It was deliberately planned to blend research and public education for the University, local schools and community. The one-meter-diameter telescope housed on top of the Ritter building is the largest optical telescope in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

“One of the joys of astronomy is that people are inherently curious about it, and so sharing our research and our telescopes with the community have been vital in our mission from the beginning,” Bornak said.

Please email stories to or mail a letter to The University of Toledo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy at Mail Stop MS 111, 2801 W. Bancroft St., Toledo, OH, 43606.

The stories submitted from the public will be used at the Astronomy Open House at the Ritter Planetarium on Thursday, Oct. 26 to show the strong connection this community has for astronomy.

is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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