New Seminole State planetarium show explores foundations of astronomical knowledge

SANFORD, Fla. (March 30, 2016) – Through observation and meticulous study, astronomers have developed a wealth of knowledge about the laws and workings of the cosmos, from how stars and black holes are born to precise measurements of the speed of light. But how exactly did we find the elusive solutions to these difficult problems?

This question is the foundation of “How Do We Know?”, the newest addition to the catalog of shows at Seminole State College of Florida’s Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium.

The show, which utilizes the planetarium’s new Interactive Response System to encourage audience participation, is an innovative and adaptable experience unlike any other presentation in the planetarium’s lineup. It seeks to explain the science and history of how astronomers determined the answers to some of the most profound questions in the universe.

“This is the first time we’ve used this kind of interactive technology in a show,” says Derek Demeter, director of the planetarium. “It’s very exciting – guests will basically get a chance to design their own show and tell us which topics they want to learn more about. It’s sort of a Choose Your Own Adventure-style presentation.”

Thanks to its interactive nature, “How Do We Know?” allows audience members to help curate a unique presentation tailored to address their interests. As determined by an audience vote, stargazers can expect to learn about a wide array of concepts like how astronomers determined the speed of light, how they ascertain the astronomical distances between planets and galaxies, how they discern the ages of stars, how black holes distort the fabric of the universe, and more. No two shows will be the same.

“The idea for this show came about because we always get so many great questions after our presentations,” Demeter says. “Our audiences are fascinated by the topics we cover, and ‘How Do We Know?’ gives them a chance to learn more about the science and processes behind astronomy – not only what we know, but how we learned it.”

Demeter says “How Do We Know?” could help set the tone for the planetarium’s future, and that plans are in the works to integrate the Interactive Response System into upcoming shows to help create a more immersive experience for audiences.

“How Do We Know?” debuts on Saturday, April 2, with showings at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Presentations also will occur onApril 9, 23 and 30, all at 8:30 p.m.

Planetarium shows are free for Seminole State students, faculty and staff with a valid Seminole State ID. Admission prices for the general public are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors (55+) and non-Seminole State students, and free for preschool children.

Live public shows are presented at the planetarium every Friday and Saturday, usually beginning at 8:30 p.m. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit, or call 407.708.2360.


Photo: Derek Demeter, director of Seminole State's Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium, narrates a live presentation.

Media contact: Joseph Hunter, 407.708.2286,



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