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College of Science & Mathematics

A Shining Star

 

Beneath the vibrant, calming glow of Orion's belt, Keith Johnson studies the universe, as glorified patrons of the Planetarium watch, humbled by the vast expanses of space above them. To outsiders coming to just see a show, Johnson is the Director of the Edelman Planetarium however, beneath the uniform, and within the College of Science and Mathematics, radiates a star; a star that lights up its universe.

Two weeks ago, Johnson, both Treasurer and Membership Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Planetarium Society, attended an organizational conference in Frederick, Maryland, where he was blinded by a solar flare of astronomical significance; well, maybe not that apocalyptic, but still, much to his surprise, Johnson was honored at the conference via two awards in his honor.

The first was his being named a MAP Fellow for his six year tenure within the organization, as well as hosting a conference at his very own Planetarium. "In 2011," Johnson explains, "I co-hosted a conference here at the Planetarium entitled, Teaching in the Dark." At this conference, several planetariums from within the 460 active stations, consisting of 180 members, spanning across 13 Northeastern States, hooked up their equipment and showcased their methods for teaching Astronomy. Several other attendees also received this award.

The second award, and more prestigious, meaning all the more surprising to him, came in the form of the MAP Award for Exceptional Service. Johnson's volunteer work as Membership Chair and Treasurer involved extensive hours completing a "comprehensive directory of the 460 plus planetariums in our 13 state region," a task that consisted of seemingly never ending emails and snail mail. Johnson also assisted in updating an outdated computer system so that online payment, registration, and other processes could be more efficient.

Besides his credentials with MAPS, Johnson has been a member of several other organizations, including the International Planetarium Society, consisting of 4,000 planetarium installations, where he served as Treasurer. He earned his Graduate Degree from the Steward Observatory at the University of Tucson, Arizona. He also has been director of several other planetariums including Odessa College in Texas, and served at the Fleishmann Planetarium in Nevada as Assistant Director.

Today he enjoys spending his time educating both young children from the community and Rowan students, about the mysteries of space, and sharing in their wonder and amazement when they look out beyond the stars. The College of Science and Mathematics is glad to have such a bright and everlasting star in their universe.