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UMaine Today Magazine

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Starry, Starry Nights

Maynard Jordan believed that the sky's the limit when it comes to education. The native of Little Cranberry Island started his collegiate teaching career at the University of Maine, his alma mater, in 1917. It lasted nearly four decades. Jordan taught mathematics, which was his area of study, and astronomy, which was his passion.

Jordan used the night sky as a dynamic laboratory. His primary teaching tools included the UMaine Observatory, built in 1901, and Planetarium, installed in Wingate Hall in 1954.

The Planetarium, named for Jordan in 1993, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Today, its astronomical productions include shows for young sky watchers and seasoned astronomy buffs. In addition to simulating a clear Maine sky, Planetarium shows transport audiences across time and space for close-up views of the planets and the center of the Earth, the edge of the universe and the birth of the solar system.

Approximately 6,000 visitors and 500 UMaine students taking astronomy classes use the Planetarium annually. An endowed Maynard F. Jordan Fund, established with the University of Maine Foundation by Jordan's daughter, Dorothy Whitehouse, and her husband Theodore Whitehouse of Wellesley, Mass., (members of the UMaine Classes of '48 and '50, respectively), helps to ensure the future of the Planetarium and Observatory as educational resources.

The endowment is described as an endorsement of the value of astronomy education a field that continues to interest students of all ages as it has intrigued astronomers for millennia.


UMaine Today Magazine
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