2022 marks the MSUM Planetarium's 50th anniversary. After a half century of inspiring a curiosity in what exists beyond our sky, the people behind the Planetarium honor its significant milestone by sharing the historical orbit of this community asset. You can help ensure the continued success of the planetarium by donating today.
Robin Ladd grew up in rural North Dakota, where the stars in the night sky were easily viewed.
But it was the stories about the constellations that attracted the 1982 MSUM graduate to her first astronomy class. This eventually led to her working at the MSUM planetarium.
“I had the North Dakota sky down, but I loved being able to change the projector to see the way (the night sky) looked in other places,” she says. “And (in the planetarium) you didn’t have to worry about the weather.”
Ladd studied mathematics with an emphasis on secondary education. Working at the planetarium allowed her to hone her teaching skills. She especially enjoyed leading the school field trips. During the early ’80s, she could cover the planetarium screen in clouds and add lightning and thunder. Presenters used well-timed squirt bottles to make the students squeal.
“Teaching in the dark builds your confidence,” she says. “Nobody was looking at you, they’re looking at the stars.”
Ladd completed a project related to Native American culture as part of her secondary education requirements. She decided to research indigenous constellation stories.
“I brought my entire class to the planetarium,” she says. “It was fun.”
Ladd lived in Florida for a long time. There the light pollution makes watching the stars challenging, she says. Then she and her husband moved to rural Tennessee, southwest of Nashville.
They joined the Nashville Astronomy Club and now invite members out to their home for big events. They have four telescopes in their garage to accommodate night-time viewing. Ladd recognizes what a gift that is.
“Most people live in places where you can’t see the stars,” she says. “A planetarium is essential to see the night sky and to fall in love like I did.”
Falling in love with the stars: Robin Ladd
Robin Ladd grew up in rural North Dakota, where the stars in the night sky were easily viewed. But it was the stories about the constellations that attracted the 1982 MSUM graduate to her first astronomy class. This eventually led to her working at the MSUM planetarium.Send Us Your Story
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