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Planetarium Lights Dim a Little at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Aug. 6, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Each year more than 2,000 people attend special shows at the L.E. Phillips Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a school or community group from the Chippewa Valley or surrounding communities. State-mandated budget cuts to the university will put an end to that outreach, at least for the foreseeable future.

Dr. Lauren Likkel, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy and director of the planetarium, said budget cuts at UW-Eau Claire have caused a shortage of instructors in some departments, so release time has been canceled for many faculty members — release time that was used for activities like operating the planetarium.

Likkel will appear on the WEAU channel 13 News Today show at 10 a.m. Aug. 10 to discuss how university budget cuts will affect public access to the planetarium.

Although Likkel said she will attempt to continue the regular 7 p.m. Tuesday evening planetarium shows designed for adults and children and the 11 a.m. Saturday morning shows geared to younger children, she will be unable to continue to offer special shows for community groups like elementary school groups and scout troops.

"Half of our attendance is from group shows, and most of these are K-12 children, so this is a way that state budget cuts to UW-Eau Claire are directly affecting the community," Likkel said.

The planetarium will continue to be available for use by university astronomy classes and for a few university-related events such as Parents Weekend and Little Sibs Weekend.

For more information, contact Likkel at 715-836-5034 or likkel@uwec.edu.

-30-

NW/JP

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