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Back Local News Petition to save UOG Planetarium started

Petition to save UOG Planetarium started

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WITH just several months to go before the closure of the University of Guam Planetarium, a local movement has been gathering signatures to urge the university to continue opening its doors.

Planetarium coordinator Pam Eastlick said so far, the “Friends of the Planetarium” has gathered more than 300 signatures on a petition that will eventually be submitted to the UOG administration and the Legislature.

“There are still a lot of people who are very unhappy that the planetarium may close. I don't think the battle is over yet, but I could be wrong,” she said.

Eastlick said she has received word that the planetarium will close this June.

Last February, Speaker Judith T. Won Pat convened a roundtable meeting with UOG to discuss the impending closure, saying: “Closing the only planetarium in the Marianas without a viable alternative is not an option.”

Won Pat said she trusts that UOG, with the support of the 32nd Guam Legislature, can identify a solution that will allow for the planetarium to continue serving the thousands of students and other interested persons yearly.

Underwood said academic priorities and financial considerations determined the closure of the UOG Planetarium, emphasizing the university does not have infinite resources so it needs to do things that are more clearly connected to its core academic programs.

The UOG president said the planetarium has not been a central feature of the university’s academic planning for several years and the decision to eventually close it was not just to free up space for classrooms.

Useful

Eastlick, in a column she wrote for the Variety, acknowledges the university has never had an astronomy program but stressed the planetarium has been useful to the university for 43 years.

Although there are many college courses that incorporate the planetarium in their curricula, Eastlick said there is little question that the main service of the planetarium is not to the university – it is to the community, especially to the schoolchildren and the adults of Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the islands of Micronesia in general.

The UOG Planetarium is the only one in this region, Eastlick stressed, adding the next nearest facility is at least 1,500 miles away.

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