CITY — “I see Uranus,” joked Spc. Brad Burton,
drawing out the syllables of the third-largest planet in
our solar system during a recent visit to Salt Lake
City’s Clark Planetarium.
Burton and his fellow students in the second phase of
the Field Artillery Surveyors course at the Utah
National Guard's 640th Regional
Training Institute (RTI) visited the planetarium to see
“Night Vision,” a live narrated show that describes what
is happening in the current night sky and in the world
The planetarium visit, an important part of Army Survey
courses, taught students how they can identify compass
points by using stars in the sky.
Because of the quality of the planetarium, according
to instructor Sgt. 1st Class (ret.) Tom Vogan,
“Students who come to the 640th RTI have an advantage
over students elsewhere in the country.” Vogan
said that Clark Planetarium is excellent resource for
students because of its cutting-edge technology and
During “Night Vision” students viewed constellations
and learned some of the history associated with them.
They also learned that the Big Dipper is an asterism and
not its own constellation; rather, it is part of Ursa
Major, the Big Bear.
More importantly, students learned how to use the Big
Dipper to find Polaris and the Little Dipper. Polaris,
or North Star, has been guiding people along their way
for thousands of years.
That night, students and instructors Vogan and Sgt. 1st
Class Corry Starr, applied their new knowledge by
locating the constellations in the night sky over
Riverton, Utah. The class spent more than 90 minutes
learning about the night sky and using the stars to find
Photo by Sgt.
1st Class Corry Starr, right, explains
the Foucault pendulum to students Staff Sgt.
Robert Denson, left, and Spc. Brad Burton. The
pendulum was the first real proof that the Earth
rotates on its axis.
According to Starr, the planetarium visit is
important because “it has the technology to show the
grids [Surveyors use] and project them into the night
The planetarium also has the ability to show all of
the constellations regardless of the time of year.
The show went deeper into the universe than can be
seen with either the naked eye or the aid of a
telescope. Students were able to see newly found
galaxies and photos from recent Mars expeditions.
Private 1st Class Frank Robak that was the
best part. “While studying the stars and what is beyond
them you realize how small we are compared to what is
out there in our galaxy and beyond,” he said.