SundaySeptember 25, 1983
Planetarium Program Distributed Nationwide
All Systems Go! is a program written and produced by Ted Pedas and Tim Kuzniar for showings at the Farrell and Youngstown State planetariums last year. They revised the program several times before inviting NASA officials to take a look at it.
Pedas said various NASA representatives viewed the program between January and March and liked it so well the agency agreed to help underwrite the cost of production.
Pedas is director of the Farrell Planetarium and lecturer at the Youngstown State facility as well as astronomy writer for The Vindicator. Kusniar one of his former students, is director of operations and artwork at Farrell as well as artist at Youngstown's facility.
They write and produce new shows for the planetariums nearly every year but this program is something special. It opened in more than 100 planetariums across the country this month.
All Systems go! tells the story of America in space, from the first satellites launched in the late 1950's to the sophisticated travels aboard the space shuttle.
Pedas and Kuzniar began work on the project about 18 months ago and the first program aired at Youngstown State. They brought it to Farrell a short time later and so far more than 7,500 people have viewed free showings of the commemmorataive story at the two planetariums.
Pedas said NASA was so impressed with the program that it gave them a $5,000 grant to help produce the show in a format that can be used by planetariums and audio-visual theaters around the nation.
The final product of the revised show was aired in Washington, D.C. in August and the program has already been shipped to more than 100 planetariums, Pedas noted.
It cost about $45,000 to produce and distribute the 50-minute program with the cost of distribution being underwritten by private industry. The show is offered free to all who request it.
It was released now to coincide with the official celebration of NASA's 25th anniversary in October, Pedas noted.
The script was written by Pedas and Kuzniar while the original artwork was done by Cosmic Craft, a Farrell company formed by the two men. The original music and sound track were produced by Loch Ness Productions of Boulder, Colo.
The Farrell High School Planetarium has scheduled additional showings of the program during October and November. It will run at 7:30p.m. Oct. 3, 12, 20 and 25 and Nov. 2,7,17 and 22.
Because of limited seating, reservations are required and may be made by contacting the high school office. All planetarium shows are free.
Planetarium show tells NASA storyby Richard Defendorf Friday, January 13, 1984
Planetariums, once reserved for visualizing dry, astrophysical data, have lately been used for mixing education with entertainment. All Systems Go!, a planetarium program celebrating NASA's 25th anniversary, is a case in point.
Showing through March 11 at the John Young Science Center planetarium in Orlando, All Systems Go! Begins with the Soviets' launch of Sputnik in 1957, traces the development of the NASA space program (and the United States' entry into the space race) and ends with a peek at future exploration of outer space.
There is plenty of action, including explosive rocket launches and images of satellites, capsules and shuttles that soar overhead and then disappear into the blackness of space. The 50-minute presentation which includes slides, film, narration, music and special effects is something of an audio-visual symphony, designed for presentation in the starlit domes of planetariums.
The show is the brainchild of Tim Kuzniar, Program coordinator at the Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and Ted Pedas, planetarium director at Farrell High School in Farrell, Pa. The two men, who have their own production company called Cosmic Craft, developed a prototype of All Systems Go! in early 1983 to run as part of the regular-season program at the Beecher.
After we produced and saw the show, Kuzniar says, we realized that this might be the type of show that might be good to celebrate the 25th anniversary of NASA, which was coming up in October of '83.
Kuzniar and Pedas contacted some NASA people they knew at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and asked them to preview the show.
The NASA people liked what they saw. After what Kuzniar described as long and involved negotiations and many months of work, NASA headquarters in Washington awarded Cosmic Craft $5,000 so that the partners could turn All Systems Go! into a full, polished production.
We sent them the original script after they previewed the show and they reviewed it for accuracy, Kuzniar says, They had one or two suggestions but they didn't give us a hard time about what was in the script.
Kuzniar says, however, that NASA mentioned a few areas which they thought might be worded better as sort of beating the drum too much.
After Kuzniar and Pedas had toned things down a bit and assembled the visual material largely from NASA file photos and films they enlisted Mark and Caroline Petersen of Loch Ness Productions in Denver, Colo., to provide sound effects; musical embellishments and narration.
Mark Petersen wrote and performed all of the music and created all of the sound effects on synthesizer, recording them on a multitrack mix.
Even the sound of the shuttle launch was done with the synthesizer, Mark Petersen says.
The sound effects are, in fact, convincing. The filmed rocket launches are brought to life by powerful rumbles and roars that, synthetic though they may be, sound realistic. Petersen's music is appropriately ethereal, especially well suited for a real-life space odyssey.
Petersen said the sound tract took about two months to complete. Once it was finished, the show was ready for a premiere.
We premiered it at a planetarium in Richmond, Va., last August, Kuzniar says, and it was well-received there. After that, we went into production and produced about 100 copies of the show package.
Rita Fairman, director of the John Young Science Center planetarium, saw the Richmond premiere and was impressed by it. With the aid of Martin Marietta Corp., which helped sponsor All Systems Go! by buying several copies of it, Fairman arranged for it to be shown at John Young Science Center.
Even though the entire package which includes the script, film, sound track and 293 slides was designed to be shown in planetariums with computer-operated slide-prodection systems, Kuzniar says that an edit-down feature was built into the package for planetariums that did not have the fancy equipment.
This turned out to be necessary at John Young Science Center, where Fairman and planetarium operators Doug Krumbhaar and Wayne Blankenbeckler deleted some of the slides so the show could be presented manually by one operator. However, during a performance of the revised version, there are more than enough images on the 40-foot-diameter dome to keep the show moving.
If things continue to go well for Kuzniar and company (all 100 copies of All Systems Go! have been sold and more will be produced) there may be a follow-up program perhaps, he says, on the next 25 years of man in space.
A firm local connection to 25 years in space
Space is still a mystery beyond the concept of many Americans. Yet understanding is as close as the Farrell High School Planetarium thanks to the efforts of a remarkable local space enthusiast and astronomer, Ted Pedas.
Pedas, a teacher at both Farrell High School and Youngstown State University has been an astronomy and space buff since boyhood. Along with his colleagues, he has brought nationwide attention to the Farrell planetarium. Its sky shows, complete with music, narration and programing conceived and arranged by Pedas and other members of the planetarium staff, have brought an understanding of the vast universe to hundreds who only before marveled at the stars.
Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the agency created to challenge Russia following its success in hurling a basketball-sized object beyond the pull of the earth's gravity. In the quarter of a century since, the nation has not only matched but overcome the Russians, putting men on the moon and returning them safely and fashioning reusable space satellites capable of performing tasks that were only dreamed of when the men and women of NASA put the nation's first primitive machine into orbit. From that time on, the nation was called upon to think in terms of millions of miles rather than hundreds and thousands.
All this has been brought together by Pedas and his associates in a remarkable and fascinating sight and sound program entitled All Systems Go, showings of which will be presented throughout this month and November at the Farrell Planetarium. Because of limited seating, admittance will be by reservation only. An estimated 7,500 Shenango Valley and Youngstown residents already have viewed the production and come away singing its praises.
Prepared with the financial and consultive assistance of NASA, All Systems Go soon will be shown nationwide in university planetariums and elsewhere, including the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
That the production had its origin in the Shenango Valley is an indication of how close the mysteries and the wonders of space have been brought in the quarter century since America began its probe into the unknown. Pedas and his associates and the Farrell School District are commended for making this possible for this area PWH
The Herald Spectrum
E-mail: Ted Pedas