“Changing Skies” for students -- Max Planck Day at the MPA

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Max Planck Society, Max Planck Institutes throughout Germany - including the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching - opened their doors on 11 November to welcome students. In 1911, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was founded, which was succeeded by the Max Planck Society in 1948.

Fig. 1: In the inflatable dome, students are taken on a journey through the universe.
Image: MPA

Fig. 2: The show with the digital planetarium starts with a detailed look on the solar surface, which is constantly fluctuating.
Image: MPA

Fig. 3: The Millenium Simulation shows the large scale structure in the universe, which is in good agreement with actual observations.
Image: MPA

At the MPA, 10th to 12th grade high-school students were invited to learn more about the astronomical research at our institute in a digital planetarium show and in scientific talks. In the new inflatable dome, scientists took the students on a journey from the skies over Garching to the beginnings of the Universe, which resulted in many “aahs” and “oohs”.

The digital planetarium show “Changing Skies” started with well-known constellations and visualised changes due to the motion of the Earth. It then moved on to intrinsic changes of the celestial objects, showing various stages in stellar evolution, and expanding the view to observations of other galaxies, some of which are very distant like the ones in the Hubble Deep Field. Due to the finite speed of light, this allows the scientists to study galaxies in different evolutionary stages and even enables them to look back to the very beginning of the Universe itself.

As this show could only present a general overview, different aspects were then focussed on in a scientific talk. This gave the students a small insight into recent research results.

Due to the overwhelming interest from schools, similar activities with talks and planetarium show are planned for future evening events. Teachers and schools interested in this programme should get in contact to Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle.


Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Press and Public Outreach Officer
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching
Tel. 089 30000-3980
E-mail: prmpa-garching.mpg.de