What is GLAS?

GLAS logo
0:03The video opens with an aerial zoom over Yerkes Observatory. Text appears on screen: “In 2018, Yerkes Observatory Closed.”
0:08Aerial continues. The text on screen adds: “The Education Outreach staff refused to abandon their students and research.”
0:12Kate Meredith is speaking. She has shoulder-length dark brown hair, a dark sweater, and a light blue blouse. She is sitting in front of a bookcase at the GLAS office in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Text The University of Chicago announced that they would be closing Yerkes observatory and that they would not be able to transfer the property to a new entity by October so we in June we made the decision that we would try and save the programs that were operating at Yerkes Observatory by forming a new nonprofit.
0:32Aerial view of the GLAS office building. The text on screen reads, “GLAS was formed.”
0:34Aerial view of the GLAS building continues while camera zooms in more closely. Text on the screen reads, “Geneva Lake Astrophysics and Steam would continue the work started at the Yerkes Observatory.”
0:39Deb Kaelbli is speaking. She has long brown hair with light highlights. She is sitting at her desk in the GLAS office, wearing a light pink sweatshirt over a light green, zippered top. There is a window to her right, and a calendar and a large poster on the wall behind her. The poster reads, “Thank You! The Yerkes Family” in white on a background of green shades. Text When they came in to announce that they were closing I believe I was the only manager in the building. So they told me, and it was a gut punch because we had no clue.
0:51Scene changes from Deb’s office at GLAS to her office at Yerkes, showing the view of green grass and trees from her window. The view shifts to the Yerkes hallway with posters of the IDATA meeting at Yerkes in the spring of 2017 and a poster of Geneva Lake Dark Sky Initiative. Text Nobody had any clue, and I was then tasked with telling everybody else.
0:58While Deb continues talking, there is a view of the Yerkes Rotunda, facing toward the marble stairs that lead to the large 40-inch refractor telescope. Music is continuing. Text I wasn’t able to experience what I should have gone through the other the grief. 
1:06There is a picture of the 40-inch refractor inside the closed dome. The camera then pans across one wall of the Yerkes library. The scene returns momentarily to Deb speaking from her office at GLAS, then shifts to the outside of the Yerkes building, showing the south dome, two of the pillars at the south entrance to the rotunda, and part of the lawn. Text I think it took several months before, probably even after October, before I could just let it hit me because I was taking care of everybody else the whole time.
1:17A dark view of the lawn quickly changes back to Deb in her GLAS office. The camera pans to the poster for Geneva Lake Astrophysics and Steam in the front window at the GLAS office and to the Geneva Lake Astrophysics and Steam patch on the front of Adam’s sweatshirt.  Text Joining GLAS made that path for me to be useful and to carry on what we were doing.
1:28Kate Meredith is speaking again. Adam is shown working on his computer at the table at the front of the GLAS office, along with others on their computers. This is followed by a view of the workshop at the back of the GLAS office.  Music continues. Text GLAS Education’s mission was pretty clear when we started off was to preserve and sustain programs formerly operated by Yerkes Education Outreach.
1:35Kate is talking as the scene shows Kate and Mark Berthoud working with students at GLAS. Text A year later we really decided that we needed to do more and really look at all of Yerkes’s programs and look forward to what is the future of these programs with the aim of returning them to the building.
1:52Picture shows the front of GLAS with many students. Text is written across the picture: One of the Programs GLAS is leading is: Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy.
1:54Students are seen entering the GLAS building. Then Chris Matthews is talking about IDATA. He has curly brown hair and is wearing a black sweatshirt over a blue T-shirt. Hands are shown with fingers feeling tactile images on white rectangles. Text IDATA is Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy. It’s a two and a half million dollar National Science Foundation grant that was put in place in order to work on the development of astronomical concepts for people who can’t see.
2:12Here is a picture of Chris Matthews, with the screen also showing his name and the words “Undergraduate Astronomer/Innovator He is sitting in the back workroom of the GLAS building. Text My name is Chris Matthews and I am one of the visually impaired undergraduate students who has done a lot of work with Yerkes Observatory and GLAS education. I was born at 26 weeks and I have a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. Essentially, what this has resulted in is the fact that for my entire life I have been visually impaired.
2:34Chris continues talking. One image shows Chris talking with Kate in the GLAS office as he feels a tactile image. The scene shifts back to Chris in the workroom at GLAS and then to Chris with Alex and others in the GLAS office. Chris is holding his cane while Alex is petting his large white service dog. Text I do have some vision and use it where I can but I also do things like reading Braille and using a cane. A lot of my contributions to Yerkes into GLAS  have revolved around trying to improve the astronomy accessibility situation with specifics to people with blindness or low vision.
2:55Students are listening to Mark Berthoud as he talks to them. The scene shifts to Chris Matthews and others with the tactile sky umbrella. There is also a tactile tool with holes and braise label. Chris is sitting back in the workroom at GLAS and then there is an image of Chris and others. Text So much of astronomy now is moving away from having to look through a lens and graph things out on a piece of paper and move towards purely data. It’s all numbers and really what needs to happen for those with blindness or low vision to have the ability to interpret these numbers is that we need to make those numbers interpretable.
3:18Young students are using touch to understand how blind and visually impaired astronomers can understand astronomy. Text So some of the ways that that can happen are through, you know, 3D printing. We can touch things to find out, you know, colors and the brightness of stars.
3:26Here is a Hubble deep sky image with a graph line superimposed on the image. This is followed by Chris again in the GLAS workroom. Text We can sonify data so we can take the data, run it through a computer , and spit it back out as sound. Then I can hear the differences on stacked images, for example, of a moving object. 
3:42Chris is still speaking. Now is a picture of Chris talking to Kate Meredith in the GLAS office.  Text I could tell you what kind of galaxy we’re looking at based on the sound that’s emitting from from sonification, and what that allows for is these are just the beginning steps of representing data.
3:56Deb is speaking from her office at GLAS. There is a quick picture of telescopes outside before returning to Deb in her office. This is followed by posters of Yerkes Observatory and other images. Text So we were doing things for NASA, and we were doing things for the South Pole. We have instruments on Mars. That kind of stuff was shared with everybody. I don’t have a word for it, but it’s awesome to be in an environment that can produce such quality stuff.
4:16ate Meredith is speaking from the GLAS office. Next comes an image of the Milky Way night sky. Then there are students working together at the table at GLAS, looking at computers. Text Students are still able to do  research on variable stars or as part of a project called Lakeshore Environmental Night Sky Sensors. We’re trying to build a remotely operable sky quality meter.
4:32The first image is of the Yerkes dome at night, through the window of the Observatory. Kate is speaking, again in front of the bookcase at GLAS. One picture shows Sophia helping a young student with Virtual Reality glasses. Another shows Mark Bertoud taking notes in a notebook at the GLAS office, sitting with Adam at the table, followed by Kathy Gustavson and Ed Sadler looking at a computer. Text Emotionally it’s up and down. I mean, we have the payoff of every day getting to do programs with the public and so that really bridges and band-aids us through the times when were slogging over the spreadsheets and seeing how to make the ends meet.
4:49Kate is still speaking while the picture shows Amanda talking with her fiancé in front of the planetarium in the GLAS workroom. Another woman is shown talking and nodding, before the image changes to Kathy and Ed circling balls in the black hole simulator. Text And if we didn’t have that, if we weren’t really active in the community, it would be tough. 
4:56Deb is speaking while the video shows Richard Huttes standing in front of a posterboard with pictures of the Yerkes building and parts of its architecture. He holds up a picture of Charles Yerkes. Deb continues to speak, now shown sitting at her desk at GLAS. Children in winter jackets are experiencing the black hole simulator. Text Even if it’s a 15 minute tour, it’s all contributing to the community and to the world. 
5:09Kate begins speaking. Kate, wearing a white GLAS sweatshirt, is smiling and crouched in front of a small telescope, then handing the telescope to a young student wearing a winter hat. The student looks through the lens of the scope. The images change to outside night shots of visitors and workers at a star party, looking up or looking through the telescope lens. Text I’m so satisfied when you get to do with a star party and when somebody looks at Saturn for the first time and is dancing around and exclaiming that they think it was pasted onto the front of the telescope; that’s what gets you through the next thing. Or when you have a success and somebody’s able to analyze a piece of data that they weren’t able to independently before. Kate has been speaking.
5:33Kate continues to speak while the image of visitors standing with Amanda is shown on the screen. The picture changes to Kate speaking in front to the bookcase at GLAS. Music continues. Text Or you’ve made somebody’s astronomy wish come true, those are all things that matter. And they get you through.
5:45A blurred image of two people unfolding a poster is behind text which reads: Astronomers, engineers, students, teachers, and over 70 volunteers support GLAS and its mission.
5:51Chris Matthews begins speaking while the image is of visitors bent over a table. Then follows an image of a black poster with the colorful words “Thank Your Lucky Stars” and several star cutouts.  A young man with short brown hair and glasses, wearing an orange shirt, is shown helping visitors use the tactile sky umbrella. Text Touching a picture is great but I think the problem is so many people assume that that’s it or that’s the end of the line. Nope! They touch the moon; they understand astronomy, now let’s move on.
6:01Chris Matthews is sitting in the GLAS workroom and speaking. He is still wearing his black sweatshirt and blue T-Shirt. Chris continues speaking while Tim is shown working with attendees at an IDATA meeting, showing them a tactile aid. After returning to Chris in the GLAS workroom, the image changes to GLAS and Stone Edge brochures on a table.  Text And there’s so much more that can and needs to be done and so that’s where a place like GLAS really comes in to focus. That we need places, people, willing to look at those steps and take more of them so that we can move astronomy accessibility forward. 
6:23Music plays while the image shows an aerial view of Yerkes Observatory with trees and Geneva Lake in the background. These words now overlay the aerial view: “The Fate of Yerkes Observatory is still unknown”. Those words are replaced by “With your support, GLAS Education can continue innovative programs and research during this time of uncertainty”. The final screen shows this contact information superimposed over the aerial view: “Visit glaseducation.org  For more detail, follow the GLAS Team on Facebook  www.facebook.com/GLASeducation
6:43The final screen shows the following credits. Featuring: Deb Kaelbli, Kate Meredith, Chris Matthews; Executive Producer: Steven Corrigan; Director: Vincent Shade; Director of Photography: Joey Filer; Producer: Steven Corrigan; Editors: Vincent Shade, Joey Filer; Timelapse Photography: Chuck Flores; Drone Footage: Matt Riehm. Special Thanks to Matheson Memorial Library and all of the volunteers who make GLAS Education possible.

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About Us


“to provide immersive educational experiences for learners of all ages and anchor a vibrant intellectual community that makes strong and lasting contributions to national educational priorities.”

— Former Yerkes Education Mission Statement