Hamilton Planetarium Scholarship Fund, Inc.

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Course Recommendations

It is the philosophy of the founder of these scholarships that planetarium presentations, whether intended for general audiences, school groups or something else, are based upon a proper balance of science, education and drama.  Finding the correct balance for each type of audience requires a background in a number of subject areas.  To accomplish this those hoping to work in the planetarium field should have some or all of the following:

Astronomy--an absolute minimum of one year.  More is better, and a course in the history of astronomy, if available, is very important.

Education--a course in the Methods of Science Education.  (Probably will have a prerequisite of a general education course)

Geology--at least one semester, learn to recognize igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, preparing for the inevitable day when someone brings your planetarium some limestone or industrial slag thinking it's a meteorite

Meteorology--weather can be the enemy of observational astronomy, but yes, what you learn here can apply to Venus or Jupiter or other planets, as well as understanding and explaining why the sky won't be clear for that event

Mythology--Much of the sky uses names from the mythologies of many different cultures.  Planetarium shows can be enlivened with knowledge of these.  (Such classes are found in Ancient History, Anthropology, and other departments.) 

Optics--Be able to answer questions about telescopes, which planetarium personnel are frequently asked, as well as designing special effects

Photography--learn how to take better shots for use in the planetarium

Planetarium Technology; Planetarium Show Design--not offered at many schools, but if available you must take these

Theater (often listed as Drama or Rhetoric)--learn how to deal with and appeal to audiences

for courses not listed at your college, investigate the possibilities for independent study

Additionally, a class in chemistry, statistics, physics and business would not hurt.

The above recommendations apply ONLY to those wishing to enter the planetarium field, not for any other branch of astronomy.