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Alan J. Peche has been named Director of the Barlow Planetarium

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Alan J. Peche has been named Director of the Barlow Planetarium, located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, effective June 23. A Medford, WI native, Peche graduated from Medford High School and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he earned a B.S., magnum cum laude, in Physics Education and Mathematics Education.

 Peche brings a background of planetarium management and teaching to his new position. From 1992 through 2007, he held various positions with the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL, managing the Saunders Planetarium, IMAX, Challenger Learning Center outreach and demonstration programs. Most recently he was a physics teacher at Tampa Bay Tech High School.

 The Barlow Planetarium opened its doors to the public in March, 1998. Described as a “world-class facility,” it offers large, full-color special effects, superb five-channel THX surround sound, a 48-foot projection dome and has a seating capacity of 98, with additional space for disability access.

 The planetarium’s mission “is committed to educational outreach, as a resource for astronomy and space education. It provides quality programming that creates awareness of the cosmos, encourages creative and critical thinking, and sparks wonder and curiosity about our world and universe.”

 In stepping into his new role, Peche said, “I have anxiously watched the progress of the Barlow Planetarium since its opening in 1998. As a planetarium professional who is a Wisconsin native, it was nice to know that Wisconsin had a wonderful major planetarium that added to its large number of wonderful smaller planetariums. I’m honored and excited to have been selected to lead this outstanding facility into its next decade of operation and to have the opportunity to share the science, wonder, beauty, and magic of astronomy and space exploration.”

The planetarium’s main feature is an Evans and Sutherland Digistar II star projector, which recreates a night sky with three-dimensional effects. Each chair offers touch-sensitive keypads that provide audiences with an opportunity for interactive involvement with the planetarium’s shows.

The planetarium currently offers public shows on Friday nights, as well as Saturday afternoons and Saturday evenings. Astronomy shows, children’s sky shows, and rock music laser shows are among the many varied audiovisual performances that the planetarium provides. Custom shows for specific audiences are also available through prior arrangements.

 A self-sustaining entity, the Barlow has averaged over 40,000 visitors per year since it opened 10 years ago. Its shows and performances have drawn groups and individuals from all over the state to the Fox Cities and to the UWFox campus. In addition to public, private and school-group shows, the planetarium has hosted numerous wedding ceremonies, music concerts, business meetings, private and corporate shows, annual summer youth group “Space Camps,” and theatrical performances.

 The planetarium has been an enormously popular and successful field trip destination for school groups who have often combined their visits to the Barlow with tours of the Weis Earth Science Museum, the state’s official mineralogical museum, located adjacent to the planetarium on the UWFox campus.

 For more information about the Barlow Planetarium and its programs, contact Peche at 920-832-2852, email alan.peche@uwc.edu, or visit http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/barlow/.

Posted 07/28/2008