YSU Planetarium Celebrates 50th Anniversary March 18

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In celebration of its golden anniversary, the Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University will host a special show and dinner March 18.

“The Planetarium at 50: Then and Now” will begin at 4 p.m. in the planetarium followed by cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dinner in Maag Library’s Sweet Exhibition Gallery. Retired planetarium director Warren Young will give a presentation at the dinner.

Tickets are $50 – $25 for students – and registration is required by March 13. All proceeds will fund programming at the planetarium.

The Sweet Gallery is the site of a yearlong exhibit covering the history of the planetarium, the equipment used, some of the special programs it has featured and the faculty and staff involved over the years.

The planetarium opened in March of 1967 thanks to a $1.6 million donation from Ward Beecher, a 1907 graduate of The Rayen School. After graduating from the Carnegie Institute of Technology – now Carnegie Mellon University – Beecher held positions with several industrial companies, including Republic Rubber Co., Lau Iron Works, Powell Pressed Steel Co. and Commercial Shearing and Stamping Co. He was also director of Mahoning National Bank.

In 2006, the original projector was replaced with a GOTO Chronos projector, allowing for full-dome videos, funded by the Ward and Florence Beecher Foundations through a donation from their daughter, Eleanor Beecher Flad. Last year, NASA awarded a $650,000 grant to support development of full-dome videos and 3-D animation materials for planetaria around the world.

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the planetarium is also hosting a display in conjunction with the YSU Center for Innovation in Additive Manufacturing, “NASA Missions to the Solar System.” The exhibit features eight 3-D printed models of satellites that the space agency has sent throughout our solar system.

Registration for the show and dinner can be completed here.

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