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Dave Bush

Poseidon, Greek god of the sea/ Drawing by Vanderbilt artist Megan Gallipeau
Dave Bush. Photo by Ken Spencer


The Reichert Planetarium at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport is closed for now, but its astronomy educators, artists, and show producers are busy creating new programs to make it easy for parents and children to enjoy its offerings — at home.

“We are producing an array of virtual planetarium programs that we will begin posting on a YouTube channel called Reichert Planetarium’s Virtual Outreach. The first episode, titled How to Use a Telescope, is now live,” said director Dave Bush.

“Other projects will include a comic strip based on Konnie – our affectionately named planetarium star projector; a coloring book; crafts and projects targeted to family groups for home use; and educational materials for teachers to download and use with their at-home students,” he said.

Some programs will be posted on the museum’s website and on social media.

The planetarium’s Konica Minolta star projector was the inspiration for a character called “Konnie” to be featured in a comic strip that presents astronomy information in an entertaining way. 

“Konnie will become a comic strip and we’re considering turning the strips into coloring books,” said Bush.

When the planetarium reopens, visitors will see several fresh, original programs. Bush and his staff have created new program scripts for staff who operate the projector and star-ball systems through the command console in the rear of the planetarium’s William and Mollie Rogers Theater. The programs explore stars visible during the different seasons, and feature trips to the planets.

“The programs cover a wide range of subjects,” Bush explained, “including tours of habitable worlds, the history of space exploration, the solar system, the life cycle of stars, how far Earth is from the stars, and how astronomers measure that distance. Console operators are developing their own 20- and 45-minute star talks, with their personal choice of music, narration, imagery, and humor.”

Bush plans to produce virtual planetarium shows using the popular conferencing app Zoom. He is creating the shows remotely, away from the planetarium, using professional recording equipment and video-editing software.

The Reichert Planetarium staff is creating downloadable worksheets for children. “Our challenge is, what do we add to make sure kids stay interested and engaged?” Bush said. “We want to make pages that make sense visually, with fun information, games and characters.”

The team is also developing new mythology shows for both recorded and live presentations. The shows will be a series of short constellation stories from ancient civilizations around the world.

“We have talented artists on staff who can create the characters, scenery and panoramas that will be displayed on the domed projection screen of the planetarium,” Bush said. “We’ve tossed around the idea of turning Konnie into a time machine. We can imagine traveling through time in an imaginary spaceship. We can be magically transported to lands in ancient places like Greece, Rome and Stonehenge, as well as to original, imaginary landscapes. Whatever we want!”

While Bush and his colleagues produce new programs, they are also “touching up” existing educational programs for school groups. “Now we have the time to focus on what we need to do to enhance programming,” he said.

For more information, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org and select Virtual Learning.

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Newest show, Laser Beyoncé, premieres June 30

Summer is a great time to enjoy spectacular, laser light musical entertainment shows at the Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum. The venue will bring back audience laser show favorites like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon, and will premiere its newest one-hour show, Laser Beyoncé, on Saturday, June 30, at 7 p.m.

Beyoncé, one of the most awarded and best-selling artists of all time, is acclaimed for her thrilling vocals, videos and live shows. Laser Beyoncé captures the fun and energy of the singer’s concerts in beautiful laser light imagery with some of her most popular songs including “Formation,” “Irreplaceable,” “Independent Women Part 1,” “Naughty Girl,” “Halo,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “If I Were a Boy,” “Crazy in Love,” “XO,” “Single Ladies,” “Love on Top,” “Freedom,” “Survivor” and “Run the World.”

‘Our educational and entertainment programs attract a diverse audience to one of the finest planetariums in the country,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum. Dave Bush, technical and production coordinator for the planetarium, added, “We present award-winning, world-renowned, full-dome productions, as well as live presentations with an astronomy educator that show off the amazing capabilities of our domed theater’s cutting-edge technology. The Reichert Planetarium boats the highest level of laser programming available.”

Live presentations also include Long Island Skies on Fridays at 8 p.m. and Night Sky, Live! on Saturdays at 8 p.m. The planetarium also presents shows that feature jaw-dropping journeys to the outer reaches of the solar system. The 60-foot domed theater features a Konica-Minolta star projector, full-dome video and surround sound for an exciting, immersive audience experience.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For show schedules, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, call 631-854-5579.