Still going strong after more than 40 years, the Madison Metropolitan School District's planetarium will conclude its 2006-07 public-show season with two out-of-this-world presentations. On April 18, 'Exploring the Skies' will teach attendees how to find constellations, planets and stars with the unaided eye. Tips for purchasing binoculars and telescopes will be offered, and, weather permitting, telescopes will be set up outside. Then, the planetarium's popular 'Skywatching' program returns on May 16 to provide a preview of what to look for in the summer-night sky. Show times for both presentations are 6:30 and 7:45 pm. Located in James Madison Memorial High School, 201 S. Gammon Road, the planetarium theater features a domed ceiling and special projector that re-creates the sky for any date, time and latitude, with images of stars, planets, the sun and the moon. 'It's very clear that the programs appeal to people regardless of age,' planetarium instructor John Rummel says. 'Astronomy is the most accessible science, because everybody is fascinated by the night sky.' Admission to all shows is $2 per person. Seating is limited, and shows often sell out. For more information, visit mmsd.org/planetarium or call 663-6102.
The Internet has become a virtual universe where child sexual predators can hide. They tend to engage young people in anonymous exchanges that can eventually lead to personal questions and even face-to-face contact. Scared yet? Child-abuse expert Robert Hugh Farley, who will give a public presentation about cyber-predators on April 26, says parents need to pay close attention to what their kids are doing online. 'All too often, parents feel totally disconnected from the electronic playground that is the Internet,' says Farley, who has trained thousands of law-enforcement and medical professionals in child abuse investigative techniques. 'To keep kids safe, we need to first understand the technology, because that is the gateway in which our children are being unwittingly victimized.' Farley's presentation also will address the use of cell phones for solicitation, the jargon of instant messaging and examples of how popular sites such as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook can seduce young people. The event will be held at Bolz Auditorium, 124 S. Brooks St., from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Admission is free, but registration is required. Call 267-5900 or visit meriter.com/classes to reserve a spot.
Around the world
Two events this month strive to introduce young people to a variety of cultures and traditions thriving within the Madison area. The city's Celebrate Madison! 2007 Festival will be held April 14 at Monona Terrace, from 11 am to 6 pm. Organizations representing local Italian, Hispanic, Latino, Native American, German, Asian and African communities will be available to share information. The following weekend, on April 21, the Wisconsin Union Directorate's student-run Global Connections Committee will host the fifth annual Around the World Children's Fair at Villager Mall, 2300 S. Park St., from noon to 4 pm. Developed as a way for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade to explore different cultures in an interactive environment while also mingling with university students, the fair will highlight several UW-Madison international organizations ' including the Mexican Students Association and Bellydancing UW. Bucky Badger will be there, too. For more information about either of these events, call 261-4042 or 254-5236.