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Madison Metropolitan School District

Welcome our new Director!

Ben Senson photo

Hello Planetarium fans, welcome to the new academic year and a recently upgraded... OK, literally today as I right this... planetarium Digistar 7 system.  All new video cards, etc to make the system even more capable of engaging and inspiring the mind and soul, so exciting!!

And, drumroll please, we have a new Planetarium Director!

With Geoff's retirement at the end of last year we lost one of the most gifted, talented, dedicated, and inspirational planetarium leaders.  That might have been troubling for many of you, but fear not, the "new guy" has been around for all of Geoff's career and they have been collaborators for all things planetarium for many years.

So, look forward to meeting Ben Senson the next time you visit the Planetarium.

A little background on Ben... 

He has been a science teacher at Memorial High School for many, many years... teaching Earth Science, Integrated Science, General Physics, AP Physics, PLTW Aerospace Engineering and Astronomy.  He has also been an instructor for the introductory astronomy courses at Madison College.  Ben's work in the planetarium field and astronomy has also included a short stint as the Co-Director of the MMSD Planetarium & Observatory.  It was Ben who wrote the proposals and worked through the implementation of the MMSD Observatory located in the school forest.  At its creation, it was the only remotely controllable telescope dedicated to K-12 observing in the world.   Most recently, Ben has shared participation in the NITARP (NASA/IPAC Teacher Archival Research Program) experience as Geoff had done before him.  For Ben this involved using multiple sources of archival data to identify and catalog young stellar objects (YSOs) in an object referred to as IC 417 or the Spider Nebula.

"I can't wait to meet all of you again, or for the first time, as you return to the Planetarium.  Right now the push is on to get my first public events planned and executed.  We have had our first big cleanup from the construction over the summer, have the installation of Digistar 7 going in today, and have gotten the reservation system for schools and groups back up and running.  I have a lot more to get accomplished with a telescope loaner program reservation system, space reorganization, public shows, astronomy club on the "must do ASAP" list.  And finally, I will continue the fantastic work that Geoff has done to keep the MMSD Planetarium up to date and capable of delivering cutting edge experiences to our guests.  A hearing loop system and new projectors are next on the list for much needed facility upgrades, so I will continue to seek the support needed to implement those plans.  That means your support for the Planetarium is as important as always as we work toward regaining the pre-covid capabilities and impact of what the Planetarium does in this community.  Geoff created a beautiful and capable program... those are big shoes to fill... but I am very excited for the challenges!"

Until our next update, peace and clear skies!