stars and planets

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It's the 50th anniversary of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University.

Those five decades have seen enormous changes in America's space program and in the way we think of space.

Shannon Schmoll, the director of MSU's Abrams Planetarium, said that planetariums have evolved and changed a lot through the last five decades, and a lot of those changes are seen in technology. Schmoll said the ability to use digital projection allows planetariums to show things beyond earth.

“We can fly out to Mars and can actually fly through Valles Marineris, which is a canyon on Mars about the size of the United States,” she said. “So we can actually travel the universe, so to speak, which is very exciting,” she said.

Schmoll said the knowledge that has been acquired over the decades provides planetariums with a lot more excitement.

“We still have people who come in and they have tons of questions about what’s going on in space. They want to know what’s going on with Hubble, what’s going on with the new missions,” she said. “ It’s a sense of wonder that just never goes away with what’s out there."

*Listen to the full story above. 

When you grab a bottle of water at the grocery store, do you ever wonder where that water came from.

And do you really know the quality of that water? We found out if it's really better than what comes out of your tap.

And, as the use of meth makes headlines across the state, we talked to one woman about her recovery and what she's doing for other addicts.

And, we traveled to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinac City, one of only 10 designated sky parks in the entire world.

Also, musician Matt Jones talked about his newest work and overcoming a challenging year.

First on the show, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed (D-Nev.) says a bipartisan deal has been reached, a deal that would avoid a U.S. default and it would end the partial government shutdown. 

Speaking on the senate floor, Reed thanked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for working out the agreement, an agreement to reopen the government through January 15th and increase the nation’s borrowing authority through February 7th. 

Now though the deal’s in place the House and Senate still need to vote to approve the legislation.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow joined us today to give us her perspective on the issue.

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If you live in the city or the suburbs and you travel to the country, the first thing that often strikes you after the sun goes down is the incredible show in the night skies.

The difference between what city-dwellers see each night, and the same sky when you're on the shore of Lake Michigan in Emmett County is unbelievable.

That's the magic behind the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, a 600 acre park along the shore of Lake Michigan near Mackinaw City.

It's one of only 10 designated dark sky parks in the world.

Mary Stewart Adams, the program director at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, joined us from Emmett County.

Federal health data show that where you live may determine whether you will get cancer and what type.

On today’s show, we explored Michigan's cancer profile.

And, we traveled to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinac City, one of only 10 designated sky parks in the entire world.

Also, we spoke with Rick Pluta about the write-in candidates in Detroit’s primary election.

First on the show, it's not uncommon for voter turnout to be lower on primary Election Days than on the big general Election Days in November, but so much is at stake in Detroit's primary today.

Voters will narrow the field in races for Mayor and City Council.

They'll be choosing a district-based council for the first time in nearly 100 years. These leaders will be working closely with emergency manager Kevyn Orr during the city's historic bankruptcy, and they will be running the show after Orr leaves.

So the need for competent, passionate elected officials is greater than ever, and yet, turnout at the polls in Detroit is expected to be in the 15-17% range.

We wanted to talk about what's behind that chronically low number. Could it be something besides disaffected, uninvolved residents?

Nancy Derringer, a writer for Bridge Magazine, and Karen Dumas, the former chief of communications for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and a communications/PR strategist, joined us today.

Night Sky
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For centuries and centuries, we’ve been fascinated by the night sky. As we relax into the summer months we figured we’d spend a little time taking a look at what we’ll see when we look up at the night sky here in Michigan.

Michael Narlock is the head of Astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, and he joined us today with tips and strategies for summer stargazing.

Listen to the full interview above.

Grand Rapids Public Museum / facebook.com

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is getting a major upgrade.

The planetarium is popular; pulling in about 60,000 visitors a year. But it uses technology that's almost two decades old. GRPM spokeswoman Kate Moore says the upgrade will make a huge difference.

“Right now our shows, not only are they out of date technology wise, but some of the information is not shown in the best way that’s possible. They’re not at maximum capabilities to what, especially students, but also the general public is used to seeing these days,” Moore said.

user: James Jordan / flickr

The autumnal equinox happened today at 5:05 a.m. ET. It marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern hemisphere.

It’s the time of year when temperatures start to drop and the days start to get shorter.

Every year there are two equinoxes, one in March that marks the beginning of spring and one in September that marks the beginning of fall.

National Geographic explains:

The autumnal equinox and vernal equinox are also the only days of the year when a person standing on the Equator can see the sun passing directly overhead. On the Northern Hemisphere's autumnal equinox, a person at the North Pole would see the sun skimming across the horizon, signaling the start of six months of darkness. On the same day, a person at the South Pole would also see the sun skim the horizon, beginning six months of uninterrupted daylight.

Equinoxes explained: