• MHCC's Planetarium Presents: "Radio Astronomy Discoveries and Their Immense Instruments" on Feb. 4 and 7

    GRESHAM, Ore. – Planetarium Director Pat Hanrahan will present “Radio Astronomy Discoveries and Their Immense Instruments” at the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) Planetarium on Feb. 4 and 7. Showtimes on both days are at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

    Today, radio astronomy uses large equipment that is detecting extremely faint signals from space, yet these instruments are making discoveries that are rewriting our understanding of many areas of astronomy.

    Radio astronomy is a relatively recent field that may have begun with primitive equipment (some even used Model-T tires) but soon developed into an integral part of astronomy research. One of the first discoveries was a strong radio source coming from the center of our galaxy. Other work in early 1960s found evidence that strongly supported the Big Bang theory. Current work is revolutionizing our understanding of how new stars are formed and even recently produced our first image of a black hole. The shows in February will also cover Orion still ruling over the current sky along with his neighbors.

    Admission is only $5 for adults. MHCC students (with valid ID) and children 17 and under are $2. All shows are presented under a realistic representation of the night sky, featuring the latest galactic, stellar and planetary images.

    The shows for the remaining 2020 MHCC Planetarium schedule are as follows:

    February 4, 7 Radio Astronomy Discoveries and Their Immense Instruments
    March 3, 6Unusual Facts About Galaxies
    (Guest Speaker, MHCC Astronomy Instructor: Will Blackmore)
    April 7, 10Betelgeuse and Other Unstable Stars
    May 5, 8The Beauty of Nebulas
    June 2, 5Comets:  Their Origins and History

    All shows for the remainder of the school year are scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month and the following Friday.

    For more information about the planetarium, visit mhcc.edu/planetarium. This website also has information for reserving private planetarium showings for groups such as school classes, clubs and other groups. Groups may request special subjects that they wish to have covered.

    It should be noted that the Sky Theater is wheelchair accessible.

    The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Photo Credit: Pat Hanrahan

    The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope and is 328’ in diameter. Instead of capturing visible light it reads very weak radio signals to make its discoveries. It has been used to create a map of the radio sky and recently discovered new “millisecond pulsars”. These are rapidly spinning neutron stars that are no larger in diameter than the city limits of Portland.