Burrell series continues to grow in popularity

It may seem as though adults from Berea, Baldwin Wallace University STEM majors, and high school students from the Cleveland area have very little in common. However, people from these various demographics all are amongst attendees at Burrell Observatory’s open house and lecture series.
On Friday April 12, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Patrick Durell, distinguished professor of Physics and Astronomy from Youngstown State University, will be presenting the final lecture of the school year in the Center for Innovation and Growth (CIG). The Burrell Observatory lectures are organized by Gary Kader, director of Burrell Observatory.
“This lecture is about what happens to the individual stars when galaxies collide into each other,” said Kader. “There’s enough gravitational influence between galaxies that stars sometimes get kicked out of a galaxy and are floating around alone.”
After Durrell presents, attendees are welcome to visit the observatory to view an M42 gas cloud in the constellation Orion.
Kader said that this final lecture is “a nice bookend” to the year’s lecture series because the first lecture, presented by Jillian Scudder, was about colliding galaxies.
Durrell’s lecture will be held in the CIG, due to the unavailability of Kleist.
Prior to this year, all of the Burrell Observatory lectures were held in the CIG. However, according to Kader, the increasing popularity of the lecture series has caused the audience to outgrow the capacity of the CIG.
“The CIG can legally seat 200 people and the increased attendance at the lecture series was causing the CIG to overflow,” said Kader.
Because of the attendance increase, next year’s lectures are all scheduled to take place in Kleist. Also, according to Kader, lectures now require attendees to reserve tickets. This was a suggestion made by the offices at Kleist due to the lack of overflow seating at Kleist.
“Some of the frequent attendees instantly bought season tickets when they found out that the lectures now require tickets,” said Kader.
Kader said the transition process to requiring tickets went smoothly with only a few people showing up to the lectures without tickets. However, Kader said that even if a student attends the lecture without a ticket, he will “always be able to make room for students.”
The majority of attendance at these lectures comes from adults in the community. However, Kader said BW physics majors and even high school students are also among attendees at these lectures.
“Students in the astronomy classes frequently come out,” said Kader. “According to recent numbers, about one third of all students take an astronomy course during their four years at BW.”
Kader said his strategy to market the lectures includes posting flyers throughout all the libraries, contacting local high school science teachers, and sending information about the lecture to his extensive e-mail list of about 1,000 people.
Kader said he credits the popularity of these lectures to the fact that they are “aimed at a general interest audience, held in a convenient location, and about a subject that people are genuinely interested in.”
Uniqueness could also be a factor to the popularity of these lectures. According to Kader, the only other similar lecture series is the Frontiers of Astronomy lecture series held at the Cleveland Natural History Museum.
Kader said next year there will be four lectures that are all held in Kleist.