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Mather Planetarium

News and Special Events

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Mather Planetarium

News and Special Events

Planetarium News


Special Events


"Power to the People: Living off Solar Energy"

Dr. Gary Schmidt, Professor of Astronomy (U. of Arizona, retired; WCU, adjunct)

Mather Planetarium
April 11, 2018

The sight of solar panel arrays in yards and on the rooftops of houses and businesses is now common throughout the world.  What is less evident is the underlying technical and economic revolution that has made it practical, and even profitable, for the individual to gain energy from the Sun.  The extension of this notion to living “off grid” - independent of an electric utility - is a somewhat more daunting prospect.  Dr. Schmidt embarked on the latter goal for both economic and altruistic reasons while designing and constructing a 2000 sq. ft., 3-bedroom home in the remote Arizona high country.

During his talk, Dr. Schmidt will review at a layman's level the essential science of solar energy, describe his recipe for determining the capabilities of an individual solar system, and share his real-life experiences from a decade of living off electric power derived solely from that great orange ball in the sky.  The story offers an optimistic ray of sunshine, so to speak, into mankind's future; one that promises to reduce our dependence on megacorporations and environmentally damaging (and limited!) fossil fuels.

This presentation will take place in the Mather Planetarium. Dr. Schmidt's talk will begin at 7:30PM. Following the talk, Dr. Schwarz will give a short demonstration on the dome. Dr. Schmidt will be on hand afterwards to answer questions. While we never prohibit parents from bringing children to the planetarium, this presentation is geared toward adult audiences.

Guests may park for free in Lot K behind the Sykes Student Union Building (parking map).  Metered parking is also available on Church St. and Rosedale Ave. however meters must be paid until 10pm.

This event is free but registration is required.  To register, or if you have questions about the event, please e-mail the Planetarium Director,

Dr. Karen Schwarz


Power to the People PPT slides

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