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.

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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

Exploring Titan

Sep 16, 2016
NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Why Saturn's largest moon, Titan, represents the most interesting place in our solar system.

Sending Off OSIRIS-REx

Sep 9, 2016
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: In the hopes of finding clues to the origins of life in the Universe, NASA targets the asteroid Bennu and sends OSIRIS-REx out for a 7 year round-trip journey.

Voyager 1... Still Going Strong

Sep 2, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Voyager 1 and its ongoing journey beyond the edges of our solar system.

The Moon - Our Constant Companion

Aug 26, 2016
Wikipedia Creative Commmons

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

7 Days

Aug 19, 2016

In this episode of Our Island Universe, why are there 7 days in the week?

Dog Days of Summer

Aug 12, 2016
Till Credner via Wikimedia Commons

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

Venus is Hot!

Aug 5, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

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

Journey to the Stars

Jul 28, 2016
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Why we are destined to explore in space.

Finding Earth

Jul 21, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: how our quest for the moon led to a deeper understanding of home.

Everyday Space Technologies

Jul 14, 2016

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We look at the many technological discoveries and uses that have come from our pursuit of space exploration.

The Birth of GPS

Jul 7, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: We look back at the moment that gave us our modern GPS capabilities.

Katherine Johnson: Computer

Jun 30, 2016
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: Meet Katherine Johnson, NASA's first super computer.

Ancient Planets

Jun 23, 2016
NASA

On this episode of Our Island Universe: The discovery that planets much older than earth may be commonplace in our galaxy.

The Average Planet

Jun 16, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

On this episode of Our Island Universe: When it comes to planets, does the Universe have a typical size?

Our Accelerating Universe

Jun 10, 2016

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

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