The Friendly Stars:
12:30 p.m.


HAMLET. Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

POLONIUS. By th’ mass and ’tis, like a camel indeed.

HAMLET. Methinks it is like a weasel.

POLONIUS. It is backed like a weasel.

HAMLET. Or like a whale.

POLONIUS. Very like a whale.


Hamlet III, ii, 361–367

It was fun trying to do The Friendly Stars. It’s much more difficult to do a show than it would appear, because you have to master so many skills: reading in the dark, pressing buttons, manually synchronizing stuff and talking all at the same time. I imagine it’s similar to playing a large pipe organ: hands, feet, eyes, and mind all doing different things at the same time!


—Frank Wortner, after his show on February 15, 2009

Magic Sky (MAGIC.CUE) is like Friendly Stars, but without the DVD and the cool sounds as the sky changes color in the beginning.


Friendly Stars is our only pre-recorded show in which all the video can be projected on the DLP, since no image has to share the dome with the Zeiss. The DLP is sharp enough to show Earth’s oceans sparkling in the Solar System lineup; unfortunately, it is bright enough to hide the snow effect at line 58 of FRIENDLY.CUE

  1. Cassette player: insert The Friendly Stars (SHOW COPY 2/7/05?) label out; rewind and set odometer to zero.

  2. Sound board: volume up for output (to 0), CD (to –30), cassette tape (to quieter than –30), and DVD (to –25); down for all others.

  3. CD player: insert Chromatics AstroCapella. Mark uses Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

  4. DLP setup: Alternatively, video projector: monitor select line 1, input select line 1 to enable show DVD; brightness and contrast up.

  5. DVD player: insert Friendly Stars into show (left) player. The first title screen should appear, with Pausing already selected (dark blue). Press PLAY/PAUSE on the DVD player to make this title disappear and the next title appear and disappear.

  6. Press PLAY/PAUSE again to start the show; the DVD sun will zoom in with music. Press the right STILL/STEP button on the DVD player to freeze the video sun while it is still small.

  7. This is the first show of the day, so you should orient the Zeiss. Use diurnal and latitude motion to center the Zeiss sun on the video sun. The DLP video sun is at altitude 41°, azimuth 181° (one degreee right of meridian); turn on AS and VE P1. When done, this is a good opportunity to fine-tune the azimuth. Then re-center the Zeiss sun, and turn off Zeiss sun, ecliptic, and meridian.

  8. Press the MENU button on DVD remote control to return to the first title screen (the one with the blue Pausing). We are now back to where we were immediately after inserting the DVD in step 5. Press PLAY/PAUSE on the DVD player to make this title disappear and the next title appear and disappear.

  9. Spice computer: Make sure SFX AUTO DISABLE is off. Test the Spice remote control by stepping through one comment at start of FRIENDLY.CUE. Then ↓ until 11 RUN is highlighted. Wait there while audience enters.

  10. Audience entry sequence.

Every show has a section where, just after the setup, the lights are brought up and the audience is brought in. At this point, the operator either hits play on the DVD player, or hits the next cue. In Friendly, it uses a tape, so executing 11 RUN triggers the START switch on the tape deck [SWCH A] (line 12) This then runs until the computer sends the command to shut off the tape deck [SWCH B] (line 18). The switches are physically under the corner of the console by the slew and zoom control boxes.

We pause between the commands for motor (l. 42) and lamp (l. 48) so that these objects are already moving at full speed when the lamp comes on.

The show

During the show, do the underlined actions.

   1 ' T H E   F R I E N D L Y   S T A R S !
   2 ' FEBRUARY 2005
   3 ' Setup
   4 '
   5 ' SUN on March 1 - ECLIPTIC May 30 on E horizon
   6 RUN
   7 ' entry
   8 ' entry
   9 2 Fade 100          LAMP:ABC     'A is blue, B is red, C is yellow
  10 STop                             'Wait here while audience enters.

If you launched the Andrus Almanac, turn it off by switching DLP to input 4 (DVD) before you begin speaking.

Welcome to Yonkers, the Hudson River Museum, and the Andrus Planetarium. A satellite would not be attached to the ground; a telescope would not be kept indoors. Planetarium exit behind black velvet curtain locks behind you, silence your cell phones, darken your video games, and take off shoes that light up.

What shape is the sky?
Does the sky have four corners and four edges like the ceiling of a room?
Does the sky have a fold along the top like a tent?
Does the sky have a point at the top like a teepee?
The only shape that has no corners, edges, and points is a dome.

We begin our show at high noon. What color should our sky be during the daytime? I have trained with an ancient master to use the power of my mind to control the machine. Didn’t work? Maybe you can help me. Let’s all concentrate.

  11 RUN
  12 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on (off in l. 18); plays tone.
  13 Wait 5.30
  14 ' purple                         'Sky turns purple.
  15 4 Fade 60           LAMP: B      'red
  16 4 Fade 0            LAMP:  C     'yellow off; blue remains 100 from l. 9
  17 Wait 5.85
  18 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
  19 STop
  20 RUN
  21 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on (off in l. 27); plays tone.
  22 Wait 6.35
  23 ' red                            'Sky turns red.
  24 4 Fade 100          LAMP: B      'red to maximum
  25 4 Fade 0            LAMP:A       'blue off; yellow remains zero from l. 16
  26 Wait 6.00
  27 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
  28 STop
  29 RUN
  30 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on (off in l. 35); plays tone.
  31 Wait 5.10
  32 ' yellow                         'Sky turns yellow.
  33 4 Alt 100           LAMP: BC     'red & yellow to max; blue remains zero from l. 25
  34 Wait 6.00
  35 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
  36 STop
  37 RUN                              'At console to turn up Zeiss blue lights.
  38 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on (off in l. 44); plays tone.
  39 Wait 5.10
  40 ' blue                           'Sky turns blue.
  41 4 Alt 100           LAMP:A C     'blue & yellow to max; red remains 100 from l. 33)
  42 MotoroN             STEP: B      'clouds (lamp on and off in ll. 48 & 54)
  43 Wait 6.55
  44 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
  45 STop

And now that our sky is finally blue, we’re ready to add the clouds.

  46 RUN
  47 ' clouds
  48 4 Fade 100          STEP: B      'Clouds appear.  No music.
  49 STop

And now that we have clouds, we’re ready to add the sun. [Zeiss sun on.] Don’t look at the real sun, even with sunglasses.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 50 RUN to make sun come alive.
Remove remote control from pocket.
Zeiss whites and blues down slowly.
Cassette tape volume to zero on sound board so we can start “cloud shapes” music prematurely (line 95) at the buttterflies.

  50 RUN
  51 '                                'Zeiss sun off.
  52 ' **DVD** TALKING SUN            'Dim the blue sky and turn off the clouds
  53 ' clouds off                     'so that the video is easier to see.
  54 7 Fade 0            STEP: B      'Clouds off; were turned on in ll. 42 & 48.
  55 7 Fade 20           LAMP:A       'blue; green & red remain maximum (ll. 41 & 33)
  56 STop

Hello there

Hello there, boys and girls. My name is Sol. But you call me the sun. I’m a very special star.

A rock star?

[Power chord.] No, not that kind of star. A star like—you know, “twinkle, twinkle”. That’s right, like a star you would see at night.

I’m a lot closer to you than the other stars. They are very, very, very far away. That’s why I look so big in the sky and they look so tiny. [360° clockwise roll.]

As you can see, I’m shaped like a great big ball. You live on another ball, called the Earth. But I’m a whole lot bigger than your Earth. Why, if your Earth moved until it was just in front of me, the Earth would be almost too small to see.

I am also real hot and that’s why I shine. I’m made of gasses that glow and make heat. That’s what makes me a star.

[Minuet.] Your Earth circles around me, and I keep your world nice and warm and a good place to live. Why if I weren’t around,

  57 RUN                              'Run this when Sun says “why, if I weren’t around,
  58 ' snow on                        'your world would get very cold.”
  59 ' “...would get very cold”
  60 LoCate 0            STEP: B      'clouds (motor on in ll. 42, 72; lamp on in l. 92)
  61 LoCate 0            STEP:    E   'snow ❄ (lamp on in l. 66, off in l. 71)
  62 LoCate 8            STEP:  C     'snow
  63 Wait 2.00
  64 MotoroN             STEP:    E   'snow
  65 Wait 1.00
  66 3 Fade 100          STEP:  C E   'snow
  67 STop

your world would get very cold. All the water would turn to ice. Even the oceans would freeze solid. Plants would die and animals—

  68 RUN
  69 ' snow off
  70 ' “...would have no food”
  71 3 Fade 0            STEP:  C E   'Turn the snow off.
  72 MotoroN             STEP: B      'clouds (still on from l. 42?); lamp on in l. 92)
  73 STop

—would have no food if I didn’t shine. So like I said, I’m a very special star. [Winks and somersaults.]

By the way, your Earth isn’t the only world circling around me. There are others. Earth and these other worlds are called planets.

  1. ☿ Very close to me is Mercury, a planet covered with crater holes like your moon.
  2. ♀ A little farther out is Venus, covered with thick, white clouds. It’s very hard to see through them.
  3. ♁ Then there’s your wonderful planet, the Earth.
  4. ♂ Beyond the Earth is the red planet, Mars. Mars has some snow and ice at its north and south poles, just like the Earth does.
  5. ♃ Next comes the biggest planet, Jupiter. The colorful clouds in Jupiter’s air make stripes around the planet.
  6. ♄ Maybe you’ve heard of the other big planet, Saturn. Saturn has the most beautiful rings around it.
  7. ♅ After Saturn you’ll find Uranus. It spins around like the other planets. But Uranus is kind of silly. It spins on its side.
  8. ♆ Next is Neptune, and the air around Neptune looks blue.
  9. ♇ And finally we come to tiny Pluto. It’s the smallest planet. Pluto is also the coldest planet because it is very far away from me.

I like to think of all these planets that go around me as my special family. People on Earth must agree because they named it after me and call it the Solar System. See? There’s my name. S—O—L: Sol.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE for sun’s silent reappearance. He has eyes, eyebrows, mouth, but no…

Dome is still darkish.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE for deer family. I’ll show you some things that need the sun and you tell me why they need the sun. Have you seen a movie about a little deer? Which one is Bambi?

Now we’s going underwater.
Who lives underwater?
Do the fish ever see the sun?
Do the fish even know the sun is there?

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 74 RUN to show fish and underwater effects.

  74 RUN                              'Run this just before showing DVD fish.
  75 ' underwater (with fish)
  76 LoCate 9            STEP:   D    'underwater
  77 MotorofF            STEP:    E   'snow off (motor was turned on in l. 64)
  78 Wait 2.00
  79 MotoroN             STEP:   D    'underwater
  80 3 Fade 100          STEP:   D    'underwater
  81 STop

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 82 RUN to erase fish and underwater effects.

  82 RUN
  83 ' underwater off                 'Underwater effect off
  84 7 Fade 0            STEP:   D    'underwater
  85 Wait 2.00
  86 MotorofF            STEP:   D    'underwater
  87 Wait 2.00
  88 STop

Not only the animals that live on land and in the water. Who lives in the air besides birds? DVD PLAY/PAUSE to show butterfly and flowers. As soon as you see the butterfly, you can down arrow to line 95 to start the cassette tape playing.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE to show four children, turtle, squirrel, rabbit. Franklin the turtle.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE to bring back the sun for his farewell.

[Winks.] Well, boys and girls, I sure am glad I got to meet you all today. But I better get back up there in the sky. I’ve got a busy schedule to keep. People on the other side of the Earth need my light too, so I’d better get moving since it’s getting late. Do de do do...

  89 RUN                              'After sun goes back up into the sky,
  90 ' clouds back on                 'turn clouds & blue sky back up to max.
  91 3 Fade 100          LAMP:A       'blue.  Zeiss sun back on.
  92 3 Fade 100          STEP: B      'clouds (motor on in l. 72; lamp off in l. 102)
  93 STop

94 RUN is the nice cloud music. It’s too long (5:05), so start it as soon as you see the butterflies. Turn off the DLP, or dim the video to prevent the polar bear from dazzling everyone. Don’t spend the whole time talking about clouds. There is a little musical bridge about halfway through—a sort of celestia-like flourish where the steady rhythm of the piece takes a 2-bar break. That’s a good moment to start Zeiss diurnal slowly. With practice, you’ll get the Sun low in the sky just as the music ends.

My very educated mother just served us nine pickles.
Do the clouds look like anything?
Grownups: which way is the sun at noon?

Sun rises in east, travels across the south, sets in the west. So do the moon [totally absent from this show!], planets, and most of the stars. What direction are we facing?
Point up.
Point down.
Point towards me.
Point towards your teacher.
Point towards the Hudson River, New York City.

  94 RUN
  95 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on: nice cloud music.
  96 ' cloud shapes
  97 Wait 3:59.40
  98 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
  99 STop

Stop the diurnal motion while Zeiss sun is low and orange, but still visible.

100 RUN to remove clouds. Sky remains blue.

 100 RUN
 101 ' fade off clouds
 102 3 Fade 0            STEP: B      'Clear off the clouds; back on in ll. 171–175.
 103 LoCate 7            STEP:  C     'satellite (ll. 149, 153, 157)
 104 STop

Psst, psst! Hey, you!

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 105 RUN to make invisible stars speak.

 105 RUN
 106 '
 107 ' **DVD** talking stars
 108 '
 109 STop

Psst, psst! Hey, you!

Who said that?

We’re up here.

I don’t see anyone up there.
(Did you kids say that?)

We’re always up here shining.
All the time, day or night.

Where are you? I don’t see anybody.
(What’s going on?)

Gosh, is this one lost. Maybe if we yell together, we can get some attention.
It’s worth a try.
Hey, up here!

Oh, up there.
Who said that?

We did. Us stars.

I can’t see you.

No matter, we’re still here.
It’s just that during the day, your sun is so bright—
—it lights your whole sky and we can’t be seen.

Oh, I see.
Uh, I mean, I don’t see how, uh, that is—

Be patient. We’ll be out soon, as soon as the sun goes down.
It will begin to get dark, and you’ll begin to see us.
It won’t be long now. See? The sun’s gettin’ lower in the sky. Night will be here soon.

110 RUN is nice quiet sunset music and colors. Cassette tape volume back up (to below –30). Turn on horizon glow west; turn it down slowly after dark. Take your time when you turn up the stars. These are young kids and you don’t want them to be alarmed. Zeiss Horizon west, planets, moon, stars.

 110 RUN
 111 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH:A       'Tape deck on (off in l. 125); sunset music
 112 ' sunset
 113 6 Fade 100          STEP:     F  'sunset clouds on (off in l. 119)
 114 1:00 LongFade 5     LAMP:A       'turn down blue slowly
 115 6 Fade 15           LAMP: BC     'turn down red & yellow
 116 Wait 30.00
 117 6 Fade 0            LAMP: BC     'turn off red & yellow
 118 Wait 10.00
 119 6 Fade 0            STEP:     F  'sunset clouds off (turned on in l. 113)
 120 LoCate 9            STEP:    E   'meteors (ll. 122, 142, 146, 148)
 121 Wait 2.00
 122 MotoroN             STEP:    E   'meteors
 123 Wait 1:56.50
 124 LoCate 3            STEP:A       'twinkling stars (l. 129)
 125 SwitchPulse 1.0     SWCH: B      'Tape deck off.
 126 STop

Let’s sing a song to welcome the stars. Do you know any songs about stars?
“Bah, Bah, Black Sheep” and “ABCDEFG” have the same tune.
The Byrds: “So You Want to be a Rock and Roll Star”
Would you like to swing on a star?
Dion and the Belmonts: Teenager in Love
Wizard of Oz:
Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 127 RUN for “Twinkle, Twinkle” music. Turn off diurnal motion while stars are twinkling.

 127 RUN
 128 ' twinkling stars ON
 129 MotoroN             STEP:A       'twinkling stars (l. 124)
 130 Wait 2.00
 131 2 Fade 100          STEP:A       'twinkling stars
 132 STop
 133 RUN
 134 ' twinkling stars OFF
 135 2 Fade 0            STEP:A       'twinkling stars
 136 Wait 3.00
 137 MotorofF            STEP:A       'twinkling stars
 138 STop

Gee, thanks for the clear night.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE again and submit to abuse from the stars.

Gee, thanks for the clear night.
It sure is nice to see all those bright boys and girls down there.

Well, we’re glad to be able to see you stars, too.
How many of you are up there?

With just your eyes, you can see about two thousand stars.

Imagine that.
I suppose you’re all smaller and fainter than our sun?

No, of course not.
Remember, we’re very far away.
We look tiny, but a lot of us are much bigger and brighter than your sun.

Which ones?


Which of you are bigger than the Sun?

Well, me.
And me.
Don’t forget me.

Oh, I’m sorry, but I can’t tell which of you is speaking.

Gosh, where did you come from?

Now, I’m doing the best I can.
(I grew up off of Riverdale Avenue.)

Why don’t you ask the children?
Yeah, ask the kids.

All right, I will.
Boys and girls, would you point to any star up there that you think is bigger than the Sun?
Just go ahead and point.
[All of them!]

See, they got it right.
They’re smart kids.

Hey, excuse me now, boys and girls, I’m sorry but I can’t see where you’re pointing.
[All of them!]
I can’t help it.

Hopeless. [Pause.]
Let’s not be too rough. Maybe we can help out. What about the magic pointer?
The magic pointer?
Sure, all planetariums have one.
I don’t know, maybe not.

Hey, your words ring a bell.

Umm, have you worked here long?

Since October, 2005.

Aren’t you forgetting something?

I don’t think so.

You mean you don’t get our point?

Wait, wait, my pointer.
It always knows which way to point.
That’s it.
I’ll call out my friend Arnie, the arrow.

It’s about time you figured out what to do. We’ll stay quiet for a while. I’m sure your pointer will help take care of things.

At the end of it, turn on Zeiss universal projector (UN) for the green arrow.

The next commands can be included or skipped, and this is the freeform part of the show. Constellations, bright planets, connect-the-dots, recent news, just keep it short and appropriate for a four- or five-year-old.

 139 RUN
 140 ' meteor shower ON
 141 LoCate 0            STEP:A       'never used
 142 2 Fade 100          STEP:    E   'meteors on (ll. 120, 122, 146, 148)
 143 STop
 144 RUN
 145 ' meteor shower OFF
 146 2 Fade 0            STEP:    E   'meteors off (ll. 120, 122, 142, 148)
 147 Wait 4.00
 148 MotorofF            STEP:    E   'meteors
 149 MotoroN             STEP:  C     'satellite (ll. 103, 153, 157, 159)
 150 STop
 151 RUN
 152 ' Satellite
 153 2 Fade 100          STEP:  C     'satellite (ll. 103, 149, 157, 159)
 154 STop
 155 RUN
 156 ' Satellite OFF
 157 2 Fade 0            STEP:  C     'satellite (ll. 103, 149, 153, 159)
 158 Wait 2.00
 159 MotorofF            STEP:  C     'satellite (ll. 103, 149, 153, 157)
 160 STop

Before the stars’ farewell on the DVD, a huge white bear (Big Dipper, Ursa Major) appears on one DVD PLAY/PAUSE and disappears on the next, just like the pictures of “living things on the Earth.” Dim down the video projector for him.

All right, you did a pretty good job after all.

DVD PLAY/PAUSE simultaneously with 161 RUN to launch the stars’ farewell.

 161 RUN
 162 ' sunrise                        'Zeiss sun on, diurnal motion, look for Gegenschein.
 163 ' stars say bye                  'Keep stars on until dome is light.
 164 3:15 LongFade 100   LAMP:A       'blue up slowly
 165 31 Fade 10          LAMP: BC     'red and yellow down
 166 Wait 35.00
 167 ' blues only
 168 6 Fade 0            LAMP: BC     'red and yellow off
 169 Wait 12.00
 170 ' clouds
 171 6 Fade 100          STEP: B      'clouds on (last seen in l. 102; off in l. 175)
 172 STop

All right, you did a pretty good job after all.

Thanks, and—say, have you stars been listening all this time?

Sure. We love to hear stories about us stars. And we hope the children enjoyed listening, too.
Hey, listen. The sun is coming. It must be almost morning.
Yes, the sky is beginning to brighten. Goodbye, girls and boys.
So long. See ya again real soon. Don’t forget to look for us. Bye. [Goodbye!]

 173 RUN
 174 ' house lights
 175 3 Fade 0            STEP: B      'clouds off (turned on in l. 171)
 176 6 Fade 100          LAMP:ABC     'blue, red, yellow to maximum
 177 STop


  1. The Friendly Stars home page has the entire video.Transcript of the sound track.