Harry Potter takes to the skies at this week’s planetarium show

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Sirius, Lupin and Andromeda may live in the “Harry Potter” books, but their namesakes can be found in the night sky at this weekend’s planetarium show.

The Royden G. Derrick Planetarium will host its annual Halloween show, “Harry Potter’s Astronomy,” on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Visitors will be able to dive deeper into their favorite wizarding world as they learn the stories behind the names in the beloved series by J.K. Rowling, explained planetarium supervisor Jeannette Lawler.

“Throughout the books she uses star names and names characters after constellations … the stories behind the constellations provide foreshadowing,” Lawler said, adding that Rowling had a degree in classical literature and used Greek mythology to hint at her characters’ individual stories through their names.

“It’s a not-so-subtle literary device to encourage readers to look up the names,” Lawler said. “She didn’t want the books to just get people excited about reading her books but about education in general.”

Members of the BYU Astronomical Society put on weekly planetarium shows and teach the community about the night sky. This week they will present "Harry Potter's Astronomy." Photo courtesy BYU Astronomical Society
Members of the BYU Astronomical Society put on weekly planetarium shows and teach the community about the night sky. This week they will present “Harry Potter’s Astronomy.”
(Photo courtesy BYU Astronomical Society)

Lawler said the Harry Potter planetarium show would teach attendees how to find the constellations and stars named in the books and how they are treated in astronomy.

Members of the BYU Astronomical Society run weekly planetarium shows about various topics. The society is made up of physics and astronomy students, as well as other students who have a passion for the stars.

Society president Carla Carroll, a graduate student studying physics and astronomy, explained that the interactive and fun nature of the Harry Potter show makes it one of the highest-attended shows every year.

Brian Shaw, an advertising major from southern Alberta, Canada, and creative director for the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, continues to return to the planetarium.

“I’ve been to planetarium shows five times because I think they’re awesome,” Shaw said. “You get to sit in these comfy chairs that are practically beds, and it’s amazing how realistic it looks, like you’re outside looking at the night sky.”

For more information about shows, visit the Royden G. Derrick Planetarium’s website. Tickets to the show are $2 at the door. Weather permitting, the observation desk will be open after the show.

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