Planetarium offers look at ancient astronomy
by Ted Pedas
The Cosmos
The Vindicator
September 27, 1992
The 500th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the New World is being celebrated with multitudes of programs throughout the Americas. One local facility is using the event to honor the great cultures and achievements of early Americans.

The Farrell Area School District's Ted Pedas Planetarium is presenting its newest program, “Stars and Stone: The Forgotten Americans.” The planetarium presentation takes a unique look at the cultures of the people inhabiting the Americas over a period stretching across 3,000 years, people who all but disappeared when strangers from across the sea forever altered their awesome and evolving civilizations.

Civilized: Before Europeans arrived in the Western hemisphere, impressive civilizations existed in the lands of Central America that are now called Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Presented against the rise and fall of these great cultures, “Stars and Stone” is a fascinating look at the remarkable astronomical discoveries of these peoples.

The planetarium audience travels to Central America to view the dazzling architecture of Aztec cities and Mayan temples. Individual buildings and entire cities were oriented toward heavenly objects and significant astronomical events. Elaborate structures of stone were used not only as the focus of cultural ceremonies, but also to observe the stars and the planets.

From these temple heights, set upon jungle ridges that rise from lush tropical rain forests, astronomical secrets were uncovered by these ancient peoples.

Discoveries: As the Dark Ages were stifling Europe, the civilizations of Mesoamerica were predicting solar and lunar eclipses, plotting the motions of the planet Venus and producing a calendar more accurate than the one we use today.

“Stars and Stone” also explores ancient mysteries of sky lore, mythology and the Mayan and Aztec perspectives of the universe, and brings it into 20th century focus via technology that has enabled scientists to unravel the enigmas of one of the world's more puzzling — yet advanced — civilizations.

Tim W. Kuzniar and I wrote the script for “Stars and Stone.” Kuzniar also provided original artwork, photography, audio engineering and sound effects for the program. Electronics and technical engineering for the planetarium are under the direction of George Pedas and Richard Pirko.

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