The high-pitched “ohhhs” and “ahhhs” emitted by children inside the inflatable Mobile Planetarium at the Bradford Area Public Library were taken as signs of approval by staff and parents waiting outside.
Friday’s planetarium visit, conducted by Paul Krupinski of Buffalo, N.Y., was part of the library’s 2019 Summer Reading Program and tied directly to the theme “A Universe of Stories.”
Debbie Deane, youth services librarian, said the event was one of several space-themed, hands-on events offered at the library this summer.
“Everything is space-themed because (Saturday) is the 50th anniversary” of the Apollo 11 space flight to the moon, Deane said. “I’m super excited that we are able to bring this here because, (the question is) how many of our area youth get to go to a planetarium.”
The 45-minute planetarium shows were offered to three age groups of 28 to 30 children who walked through an inflated tunnel to reach the air-pressurized planetarium. A program titled “Sky Wonder” was offered to kindergarten-age children; “Let’s Do Secrets of the Sky” for children in grades one through three; and “Lives of the Stars” for fourth- through sixth-grade children.
Krupinski, an astronomer, said he has taught the program for 26 years and bought the planetarium in 1993. Krupinski is also on the educational and technical staff of the world-renowned Strasenburgh Planetarium of the Rochester (N.Y.) Museum and Science Center and the Maryvale Planetarium in Cheektowaga, N.Y. He is also a member of several planetarium societies and associations. Krupinski said he has visited many libraries in the region this summer as a number are offering space-themed programs in honor of the 50th anniversary for the space flight.
“I’ve been in libraries six days last week, and six days this week, Monday through Saturday,” he remarked. “It’s been a lot of fun at every show. I don’t care if they’re 3 years old, or older, I do a quick tribute to the anniversary of Apollo 11 … they’re kind of young, but it’s truly an historic event.”
Adults who were found sitting outside the planetarium waiting for their children included Angie Pingie, whose grandniece, Maisie, 5, was participating.
“She comes (to the library) all the time,” Pingie said of her grandniece. “She’s loves the shows and she loves to play … I’m pretty excited myself, and I even found it interesting.”
Brigid Lundgren, a parent and teacher with Bradford Area School District, said she and her children enjoyed the program.
“I loved it, he went over all the constellations with them” along with other information on stars and patterns, Lundgren said. “It was engaging and kept everybody focused, he did a good job.”
Lacey Love, executive director of the library, said that while the summer reading program has been partially funded by individual donors, more donations are always welcome. She noted the summer programs have also had good attendance by children in the community.
“If we want to keep doing programs like this, our annual giving program is about to start” and will help, Love said. “It’s important to donate to the library because we want to keep offering awesome programs like this — we need community support.”