UNT hosts imaginative “Star Stories”

UNT hosts imaginative “Star Stories”

UNT hosts imaginative “Star Stories”
August 08
15:13 2014

Nicholas Friedman / Senior Staff Writer

“Star Stories”, a show set to open Oct. 4 at the UNT Sky Theater, breaks away from the Greek and Roman influence on constellations and illustrates tales of different cultures from around the world, exhibiting what others see upon stargazing.

Planetarium manager Randall Peters said the show is a 30- to 40-minute program that aims to personify the night sky and allow people to find their way around it. The program will be displayed on the planetarium screen, measuring 40 feet across, overlooking 100 seats.

“Most people are familiar with Greek and Roman stories,” Peters said. “I tried to find stuff from across North America, Africa and Asia to show that even though people may have seen the same stars, they may not have connected the dots in the same way.”

Peters, who worked at the Omni Theater in the Fort Worth Museum of Science for 10 years, said the show’s tagline is “the only thing bigger than the night sky is people’s imaginations.”

“The Big Dipper – not so much of a story but there’s imagery,” Peters said. “To the Egyptians, it was a bull dragging a man who was running from a hippo. The hippo was walking on two legs, no less, and he was carrying a crocodile on his back. That’s some imagination for you.”

Peters said production on the show started when he thought of the idea a few months ago and put it down on paper. With the show’s narration recorded and the visuals completed, all Peters has to do is put it all together.

Psychology senior Roxanne Rios, a lab assistant for the astronomy department, supplied a portion of the artwork for the show after Peters had seen examples of her work.

“A lot of these illustrations feature fantasy creatures and animals,” Rios said.

Rios also worked on other planetarium productions, including “Water World,” which is now showing, and “Planet Walk,” which is currently running at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center near the Denton Municipal Airport.

The ticket price for “Star Stories” will be $3 for students and children, $4 for seniors and UNT employees, and $5 for anyone else planning to attend.

Peters said the ticket price is a result of the presentation being developed in-house, hopefully increasing its longevity and saving the astronomy program money in the process.

“I can purchase shows, but bargain-basement shows and writing are usually around  $5,000,” Peters said. “If we write it and we produce it and we use our own talents, it really pays off. The great thing about this show is that it’ll be great forever. There’s nothing that dates it.”

Ariana Loss-Cutler, who worked as a lab assistant in the astronomy department from 2011 to 2014, said she believes “Star Stories” will broaden the reach of the astronomy program at UNT.

“We already know that this kind of thing started as a way for people to pass on the stories of their cultures,” Loss-Cutler said. “But the sheer vastness of rich human history that is encased up there is overlooked because we don’t teach an encompassing ‘History of the Stars’ class.”

Loss-Cutler, who studied psychology at UNT, believes having a connection to the stars is a part of the human experience and it is important for a wider audience to understand that.

After every show Peters conducts a 10- to 15-minute “Star Talk.” During this time, Peters will pick up his great white shark-shaped laser pointer and guide the crowd through the night sky, answering any questions the audience may have about the show or the stars.

“The best analogy is that we’re kind of like an IMAX theater,” Peters said. “I can say that because I ran the Omni in Forth Worth. We’re digital. Anything you can put into the computer you can put on the dome.”

“Star Stories” premieres Oct. 4 at the UNT Sky Theater. Showings will be at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, with a children’s matinee at noon. For more information, visit the UNT Sky Theater website, www.skytheater.unt.edu

File Photo

About Author

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman

Nicholas Friedman is the Editor In Chief of the North Texas Daily. In addition, he’s had his work published at The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive and the Denton Record-Chronicle.

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