Approximately 100 Enid area patrons attended a ribbon cutting for the renovated Mackie Planetarium at NOC Enid Tuesday night.
The ribbon cutting was sponsored by the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce.
This past year, NOC received a two-year approximately $140,000 NASA Grant, donations from Bert and Janice Mackie as well as the NOC Foundation Presidential Partners for the renovation. The renovation provided funding for the purchase and installation of new optics and projection system for this planetarium.
“If you have participated in a planetarium shows run by Fritz Osell in the past, I know that you were pleased with the quality of the shows and the optics before,” said NOC President Dr. Clark Harris. “This new system, will leave you even more awe inspired, as you will see after the ribbon cutting.”
“NOC has been working with a variety of NASA programs, and this new grant is a special one in that it utilizes the fact that Northern Oklahoma College is a Minority Serving Institution,” he said. “The MAIANSE program is a Minority University Research and Education Project for American Indian and Alaska Native Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement. It is a way to bridge science and culture together.”
Harris said that during the past year, five NOC students have been focusing on astronomy through the lens of their traditional cultural “star stories” and looking at the night sky through their traditions and the science associated with those objects.
“We are anticipating that through this next year, the Northern Oklahoma College Community will be able to provide the area with more opportunities to explore the night sky through planetarium shows, and events associated with this grant,” he added.
NOC’s grant proposal was developed by Dr. Frankie Wood-Black, the Division Chair of Engineering, Physical Science and Process Technology. She is also managing the NOC efforts with the grant.
Dr. Wood-Black indicated that NOC was one of only four grants chosen for this particular effort under the MAIANSE program.
“The goal of the program is centered on “the weaving of indigenous knowledge with NASA missions,” she said. “NOC is uniquely positioned to help with in this area as we are a Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institution (NASNTI). This allows us to work with students, and our tribal partners and allow them to focus on science which has a cultural significance. The program has already produced one planetarium presentation and has provided financial support to five students. This next year we are hoping to increase the number of students involved in the program. Additionally, these new facilities will allow for a greater public outreach to the community and help to provide additional excitement for the STEM programs available.”
The facility is directed by Fritz Osell. Osell said Tuesday night that over 25,000 visitors have attended shows in the planetarium since the facility was built in 2013.
NOC Vice President for Enid Jeremy Hise welcomed area patrons to the event saying, “We are honored to have the Mackie Planetarium on our campus and we are proud of the outstanding programming and community outreach offered throughout the years.”
“Today, we celebrate the fact that this amazing facility will continue to benefit the next generation just as it has in the past thanks in part to the continued generosity of Bert and Janice Mackie along with the NOC Foundation’s Presidential Partners Program and NASA Grant,” he added.
The planetarium hosts a show on the first Tuesday of each month starting at 7 p.m. Admission is free but donations of non-perishable food are accepted.
Northern Oklahoma College, the state’s first public two-year community college, is a multi-campus, land-grant institution that provides high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services.
NOC serves nearly 4,000 students through the home campus in Tonkawa, branch in Enid, and NOC/OSU Gateway Program in Stillwater. Of these students about 80% receive financial aid and/or scholarships. 75% of NOC students complete their degree with zero debt.
The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers associate degrees in three general areas: Arts, Science and Applied Science; the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs; and the Accreditation Commission for Education and Nursing.
For more information about Northern Oklahoma College please call (580) 628-6208 or visit the NOC website at www.noc.edu.