Our Island Universe

Friday 8:30am & 2:38pm
  • Hosted by Shanil Virani

Our Island Universe is a 90 second look at new discoveries in our understanding of what lies beyond the horizon and what it means to us here on earth.

Our Island Universe is a partnership between WMRA and James Madison University's John C. Wells Planetarium.

Shanil Virani at the John C. Wells Planetarium

Our Island Universe is hosted by Shanil Virani, Director of the state-of-the-art, hybrid John C. Wells Planetarium and a faculty member in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at James Madison University. Shanil did his graduate work at Yale University where he studied supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. Prior to Yale, Shanil spent 5+ years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as part of the Science Team of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA's flagship space-based X-ray Observatory. In 2009, he was awarded the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Award medal by the American Astronomical Society for exemplary research. In 2013, he was appointed a Solar System Ambassador by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Solar system ambassadors communicate the excitement of JPL's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities. You can find him on Twitter at @shanilv.

The John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University is a $2 million, state-of-the-art hybrid facility, the only one of its kind in the world. It hosts both an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5, an ultra-high resolution digital projection system, and a Goto Chronos opto-mechanical star projector that provides visitors with a superior and realistic night sky. This digital system allows for presentations of unique full dome movies as well as projecting the multi-wavelength universe on the dome. The Goto Chronos starball allows for the projection fo an authentic night sky for any location on the Earth’s surface.

The Planetarium has 72 seats, offers free Saturday public shows, from September thru to the end of June, but is also available for use mid-week by school groups and community groups (i.e., church groups, girl guides/boy scouts, etc.) at no charge by reservation.

Find the John C. Wells Planetarium on Facebook

Follow Shanil Virani on Twitter

Subscribe to podcasts from the John C. Wells Planetarium

Learn more about public science talks hosted by the John C. Wells Planetarium

Star of Bethlehem

Dec 25, 2015
Wikipedia Creative Commmons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Was there really a star of Bethlehem and if so, can we identify it?

Winter Solstice

Dec 18, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The winter solstice and promise of longer days and shorter nights.

The Theory of Everything

Dec 11, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The hunt for the holy grail of a unified theory of everything.

Monsters in the Dark

Dec 4, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

  On this episode of Our Island Universe: The dark mystery that lurks at the center of our Galaxy.

Making an Apple Pie From Scratch

Nov 20, 2015
Neven Mrgan (Flickr)

On this episode of Our Island Universe: How an astrophysicist would go about making an apple pie for Thanksgiving.

Evidence for a Big Bang

Nov 13, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: How do we know that the Universe is expanding and started with a Big Bang?

The Accelerating Universe

Nov 6, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: You may already know that the universe is expanding, but did you know that it is accelerating?

Halloween in the Stars

Oct 30, 2015
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Why we can thank the stars for Halloween.

The Lost Days of 1582

Oct 23, 2015
George M. Groutas

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We go back to 1582, when the month of October had only 21 days.

Missing Mass

Oct 16, 2015
Wikipedia

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We peer out into the universe and try to see... what we cannot see.

Why Mars?

Oct 9, 2015
NASA

In this episode of Our Island Universe, why are we so interested in Mars?

Exploring Pluto

Oct 2, 2015
NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Early discoveries from NASA's New Horizons exploration of Pluto.

Lunar Eclipse

Sep 25, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Anticipating the lunar eclipse on  Sunday, September 27 and looking back at how our ancestors treated these lunar events.

Seasons

Sep 18, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Do you know why the seasons change?

Shadows Don't Lie

Sep 11, 2015

  On this episode of Our Island Universe: Find out how the day to day movement of the sun, and the shadows it casts, can prove that the Earth is round and even tell you how big it is.

How Do Planets Form?

Sep 4, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: What we know about how the planets in our solar system formed and why some are gas giants or ice giants.

Pluto EXPLORED!

Aug 28, 2015
NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Early discoveries from NASA's New Horizons exploration of Pluto.

Venus is Hot!

Aug 21, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The hotspot of our solar system - Venus.

Dog Days of Summer

Aug 14, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Find out where we got the phrase The Dog Days of Summer

NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We celebrate the accomplishments of NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which turns 16 on August 13, 2015.

Rebooting Our Future in Space

Jul 31, 2015
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The next chapter of space exploration and renewed efforts to pursue our celestial destiny.

We Stopped Going

Jul 24, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We made it to the moon... then we stopped going. 

The Eagle Has Landed

Jul 17, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The space race ends when Apollo 11 touches down on the Moon, July 20, 1969.

The Space Race - First to the Moon

Jul 10, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The space race is on and NASA accepts the challenge. It was a decade of incredible growth and discovery.

Sputnik

Jul 3, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The satellite that launched the space race... Sputnik!

New Horizons Arrives!

Jun 26, 2015
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

In this episode of Our Island Universe, we anticipate the arrival of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and new discoveries at the edge of our solar system.

Learn more about NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, arriving in orbit July 14, 2015.

Shanil Virani, Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium in Harrisonburg, VA.

Summer Solstice

Jun 19, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The Summer Solstice explained and celebrated.

Seasons

Jun 12, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Do you know why the seasons change?

Powering Up the LHC

Jun 5, 2015

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The Large Hadron Collider and the promise of new discoveries in the near future.

Shanil Virani, Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium in Harrisonburg, VA.

Follow on Twitter as shanilv  

Transcript:

Our Constant Companion - The Moon

May 29, 2015
Wikipedia Creative Commmons

In this episode of Our Island Universe, we look at the origins of the Moon.

Shanil Virani, Director of the John C. Wells Planetarium in Harrisonburg, VA.

Follow on Twitter as shanilv  

Transcript:

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