The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and more: MSUM Planetarium hosts Laserfest 2019

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By: Geneva Nodland, nodlandge@mnstate.edu

If you’re a devoted music fan to a singular group or genre, or if you’re always looking for new music to discover, you might just find what you’re looking for at this year’s Laserfest.

This annual event is taking place Jan. 25-Jan. 27 at MSUM’s planetarium. The show features a wide scope of music, ranging from pop, alternative and rock. The three-day event has brought in around 500 people from the FM community and MSUM, according to Sara Schultz. Schultz is the planetarium director and has been involved with Laserfest since its start five years ago.

“It’s very different from what we typically do in (the planetarium), so it’s just an opportunity to get more of the community in and experience the planetarium,” Schultz said.

The event is open to the community, and lucky for some—it’s free for MSUM students. The 50-minute shows include the use of laser lights set to music, and they happen all weekend long.

There are a multitude of different shows shown throughout the weekend, starting at the top of the hour. Each show is unique to its own, so you can come in just for a certain show or a couple as the event progresses.

Schultz and a staff of students will be running the event. She said that most of the workers are physics and astronomy students, but not all.

“ … we have some education students, we have some theater students, we have some media arts students, so we have students from all over campus who work regularly for the planetarium.”

One of those students is Callie Tescher, a sophomore majoring in English education at MSUM. Tescher has worked at the planetarium for about a year, and this will be her second year working with Laserfest.

“I think it’s not something you see a lot of other places now a days. I had never gone to a laser show before working here,” she said. “I really like how it introduces you to new music, and also it’s just great music.”

Tescher said she has benefited from working with the planetarium, even though it is not part of her major.

“I’m an education major, but a lot of my job here is presenting shows, so that really helps me gain education skills and communicating information to people,” she said.

The planetarium staff rents the equipment needed for the shows every year, rotating between a couple different systems. This year the show is coming from Audio Visual Imagineering.

“It’s kind of a plug and play. It comes preset,” Schultz explained.

There is a possibility of being able to design your own laser shows, but that’s typically with a system that you own.

In order to give students the ability to create their own laser shows, the planetarium would have to purchase a system and have it installed.

“Which is something that … I would be interested in being able to do at some point, so we can give students a unique opportunity to do that as well,” Schultz said.

The history of laser shows doesn’t begin at MSUM, but it actually dates back to the 1970s, according to Schultz.

“It’s something that planetariums do across the globe, and it used to be something that was pretty standard in planetariums … so, people have been kind of bringing it back again,” Schultz said.

“Bringing it to our campus, it had been talked about for a while, but then I started in the planetarium. I kind of pushed it a little bit more, so we got it,” she said.

There are a lot of events held at the planetarium, but none like this. The shows are usually educational or topic-based, some for children or adults, and some a series. Laserfest differentiates itself by its mixture of audio and visuals together. 

“There’s really actually a lot going on in the planetarium, a lot more than people think,” Schultz said.

“It’s a super unique experience. You don’t see it a lot of other places, the music’s always great and it’s absolutely visually stunning,” Tescher said.

Whatever show you’re in attendance at, be prepared for a journey. Your senses will come together to take you on an adventure without ever leaving your seat.

The full list of show times is available at this link: https://www.mnstate.edu/laser/ List

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