Sky is no limit for SFC planetarium manager

James Albury works as manager of the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College.

Santa Fe College Planetarium manager James C. Albury is constantly looking up and looking forward to ways that he can share his knowledge about astronomy with others.

From hosting celestial events at Kika Silva Pla Planetarium to organizing middle school student field trips to the planetarium, engaging with astronomy buffs and passing on his passion for astronomy is a calling for the former co-host of PBS television series “Star Gazers.”

“As a person of color, I try to provide a positive role model for others to follow in STEM related fields, especially astronomy and physics,” said Albury who grew up in Miami and became a volunteer at the Miami Museum of Science’s planetarium by age 14.

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Albury became a recruit for the University of Florida’s Astronomy Program where he eventually earned a bachelor’s degree and completed one year of master’s work.

In 2011, Albury became the co-host of “Star Gazers,” which he starred in until 2019. In 2020, he launched and became host of his own astronomy series, “The Sky Above Us.”

Every two weeks Albury gives viewers of “The Sky Above Us” something to look forward to.

With the help of two colleagues at SFC, the shows tap into current events in the sky and in the news.

In the most recent episode, Albury teaches about The Big Dipper asterism, a star pattern that he featured as a tie into Black History Month. The Big Dipper is a part of the constellation Ursa Major, aka The Great Bear, according to Albury.

“The Big Dipper has made its way into the folklore of a variety of cultures,” Albury explains. He teaches viewers how to spot the seven stars that form the pattern.

Albury also teaches about the different cultures that used The Big Dipper for direction, such as the Mayans.

In the Southern United States, Albury said The Big Dipper was referred to as The Drinking Gourd. He explains how Harriet Tubman rescued slaves, and, while helping them escape via the underground railroad, the slaves used The Drinking Gourd for direction.

To view episodes of the show click here. Astronomy buffs can use the website to ask Albury questions, and he said he often uses those questions as a topic for future episodes.

He said his goal for the series is to continue the legacy of Jack Horkheimer, the creator of the PBS television show “Star Gazers,” and to “Encourage everyone to go outside and look up, observing the night sky and learn more about Astronomy.”

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