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UWM's Manfred Olson Planetarium hosts program to celebrate the Lunar New Year

2024 is the year of the dragon in the Lunar calendar and UWM's Manfred Olson Planetarium is celebrating with a special program.
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2024 is the Year of the Dragon in the Lunar calendar and UWM's Manfred Olson Planetarium is celebrating with a special program.

The Lunar New Year begins this Saturday and ends on February 20. This year marks the Year of the Dragon, and people all over the world will be celebrating the arrival of spring marked by many traditions.

UW-Milwaukee’s Manfred Olson Planetarium is celebrating the Lunar New Year with a program including indoor stargazing and a presentation on preparing a traditional Lunar New Year celebration.

There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing the planetarium programs, and Lake Effect astronomy contributor Jean Creighton doesn’t do it all on her own. She has a team of production students, including Jordan LaScala.

UW-Milwaukee’s Manfred Olson Planetarium production student, Jordan LaScala
Courtesy of Jordan LaScala
UW-Milwaukee’s Manfred Olson Planetarium production student Jordan LaScala.

"So I initially got involved ... through luck. I was just going to one of the student orientation things, and I just saw that they were hiring for the planetarium. I saw that they were looking for people who could lead some production and design aspects," says LaScala. "This kind of combines my two favorite things, which is art and film and astronomy — being a physics major. So, I was very excited about that." LaScala's role in the planetarium involves helping with design sets, editing photos and helping to assemble slide shows.

Creighton says the planetarium wanted to celebrate the Lunar New Year "because, often, people don't realize that many holidays are connected to celestial events — either the lunar cycle or the solar cycle, or some combination of both."

Creighton and her team are hoping to create an immersive experience through this program. "We're hoping to almost literally transport ourselves to China so that we can hear about the preparations for the Lunar New Year, but also imagine that we can pop outside and see what the sky looks like to the extent possible," she says.

LaScala adds, "One of the most interesting things I learned about Lunar New Year [was] how it runs for a couple of weeks and every day has something specific that you're supposed to celebrate or something you're supposed to do. ... It's just a very different type of calendar than what we're used to, and it's really cool to learn that new perspective."

Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon at the Manfred Olson Planetarium will take place Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 7-8 p.m.


Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
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