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Thursday, December 8, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Planetarium is vital asset for Arlington students

Letter: Planetarium is vital asset for Arlington students

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Editor: I’m writing regarding funding for the director position at the Arlington school system’s David M. Brown Planetarium. My hope is that the funding would be restored, as it is vital to the continued operation of the planetarium.

This would be consistent with Arlington’s current plan to fund the new projector system for the planetarium as well.

I have been involved with the David M. Brown Planetarium on several occasions, providing music-based science programs for elementary students who represent all parts of the local community.

In terms of investment, the planetarium and its programs have had an enormous impact on young science students and their families. The science programs I have conducted there are based on educational-story songs, and they have attracted sellout crowds for fund-raising events on at least three occasions over the last few years. It’s quite something to see happy people lined up around the building to experience musical science programs at the planetarium.


As a youngster, I visited planetariums and was deeply inspired by their programs to become an astronautical engineer in the U.S. Air Force, and also to earn a Ph.D. in that field. I would like to see other youngsters follow similar paths someday as informed scientists and engineers for the good of our society.

By using music as an artistic teaching tool, I have been able to promote interest in STEAM subjects through my public-access TV show, “Space Quest with Dr. Jim” on Fairfax Public Access and YouTube. Based on this material, the planetarium staff in Arlington has been kind enough to use some of my space-story songs to create well-received, educational full-dome sky shows.

I hope to see the funding restored for the planetarium-director position so that the facility can go back into operation as soon as possible.

Lt. Col. (retired) Dr. James D. Thorne, USAF, Arlington

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