SUNY Oneonta to present Webb telescope images

Sept. 26 — The SUNY Oneonta Physics and Astronomy Department will give an official first look at the James Webb Space Telescope photos with SUNY Oneonta alumnus Mike Engesser, a 2017 graduate student who worked on the telescope’s MIRI instrument at the Space Telescope Science Institute , present. The event will take place on Friday, September 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the university’s planetarium.

dr Valerie Rapson, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, said SUNY Oneonta is an official host of NASA’s Webb First Images events. “It will be an evening viewing the latest images from James Webb with someone who has worked with the telescope firsthand. We will also host interactive activities at the Science Discovery Center in conjunction with the event,” Rapson said in a press release. “This is a great start to the reopening of the planetarium.”

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Engesser joined the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Webb Project three years ago after earning a master’s degree in astronomy from San Diego State University, the press release said. Knowing that the launch of the Webb telescope was imminent, he and his team have spent the last few years preparing for the moment when the images would arrive. “Astronomy has entered a new era with the successful launch and commissioning of the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Engesser. “As the data arrives, scientists are already making discoveries, and the world has seen a brave new perspective of our universe.”

The event is free and open to a limited number of participants. Register online at

In addition to the James Webb event, the SUNY Oneonta Planetarium announced four remaining shows for the fall semester: October 14th and 28th, November 11th and December 2nd. All shows start at 7pm and are free to the public. Reserve tickets for the planetarium events online at

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The planetarium regularly hosts private groups, the press release said. For private group shows, a donation of $50 per show is recommended. Educational groups from preschool through high school can attend planetarium shows to supplement the lessons in class. Programs associated with the Science Discovery Center can be arranged. Groups can submit a request to participate online at

According to the press release, SUNY Oneonta installed the latest Evans & Sutherland Digistar 6 model at the end of August 2019. It features a digital projector system that provides sharp views of the stars, planets and constellations visible in the night sky. The system can also show IMAX style movies and animations. The system consists of two digital projectors and a full audio soundboard, according to the press release.

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Weather permitting, an observation session is also available at College Camp Observatory, beginning at 8:30 p.m. after each public show, unless otherwise noted. Planetarium tickets are not required to attend the observing session. Observation sessions are canceled during inclement weather, conditions where the sky is more than half cloudy and may be relocated to the SUNY Oneonta campus if the road to College Camp is impassable.

The SUNY Oneonta Planetarium is located in the basement of the Perna Science Building, Room 018A. For more information, see