Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. Originally from Wisconsin, he started his astronomy education career at the Wausau West High School Planetarium in 1984 as a student. He served as planetarium director for the Arthur Storer Planetarium in Maryland, the Gheens Science Hall & Rauch Planetarium in Kentucky, and the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii. His most recent position before coming to Maine in January 2016 was as director and site manager for the Infoversum, a 3D digital dome in Groningen, Netherlands where he was recruited to supervise its construction, installation of technical equipment, and trained staff for opening the center.

Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch

Shawn serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. He was selected as a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador and has been awarded the International Planetarium Society’s highest honor, the Service Award for dedication to the planetarium field. He received the Tanaguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shawn initiated and led the production of Two Small Pieces of Glass, a planetarium program for the International Year of Astronomy. He served chair of the Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee and during his time in Hawaii, he presented a weekly sky update on Hawaii Public Radio. He has taught undergraduate astronomy courses at the University of Louisville, East Carolina University, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shawn has a passion for cultural and historical astronomy and sharing the wonders of the universe with people of all ages. In his free time, he enjoys the great outdoors, cooking, and traveling with his wife Kim.

Join me as we explore Maine’s skies with a focus primarily on things visible to the unaided eye, with occasional tips for things to look for with binoculars. Find out what constellations are visible in each season and fun tips for star-hopping to learn them, how to spot planets in the sky and tell the difference between them and bright stars, learn about Moon phases and how to use the Moon as a tool to find other objects in the sky, how to spot satellites, and get updates on the latest astronomy news. How do you find the North Star, which bright planet is visible tonight, what was that object visible in the sky last night? Keep your eyes on this page to find out. Feel free to email me questions about the sky at planetarium@maine.edu

While exploring the skies here in Maine check out the Emera Astronomy Center website and its Facebook page where you can find out more sky information and learn about public programs which always include a live tour of the night sky. A couple of great websites to help you on your way include Heavens-Above , NASA’s Night Sky Planner,  and Star Date .

I invite you to keep an Eye on Maine Skies!