LBCC Is Out of This World
Long Beach City College celebrates its 80th birthday this week, one science teacher has been there for almost half of those years.
Astronomy Professor Courtney Seligman continues to enlighten the young and old about outer space and the world we live in. He remains a pillar in the school’s science department and has earned respect and admiration from his students and colleagues.
“I love teaching,” Seligman told the Beachcomber recently. “But I hate grading tests.”
Approaching 40 years of instruction, Seligman has finally gained access to an innovative state-of-the-art planetarium. The high-tech classroom opened in 2006 after 10 years of planning and was funded by the LBCC Foundation and its donors.
It sits directly under a white dome atop Building D in D326, where Seligman hosts a flashy space show once a month. The planetarium presentation is free and is open to the public.
One Friday night per month, people pour into the modern exhibit to be educated about space in a fun, modern way, through its 35-foot full-dome feature. Once the lights go off and the projectors start rolling, the room appears to move up and down and all around. It’s as if you’re riding through the universe via your chair, somewhat like the Star Tours ride at Disneyland.
“This is nice,” said planetarium visitor and LBCC graduate Sean Belk. “I didn’t expect it to be like this.”
Following the show, a free telescope open house occurs on the roof of Building D, something Seligman has done for many years. Weather permitting, the moon’s craters are clear and the rings of Saturn are visible. Space turbulence between Earth and the outer worlds may cause a slight wavy appearance to the objects.
“I used to take my girls to the telescope open houses,” said LBCC Anthropology Professor and Long Beach resident Adrian Novotny. “My daughters loved it and they got an early appreciation of astronomy. We could see that Mars was indeed red.”
Over the years, Seligman has taught many people about science and mathematics. LBCC Assistant Professor Kim Hatch studied astronomy under Seligman when polyester shirts were in style.
“As a young student back then, I could have never imagined that one day I would be teaching in the same department as Professor Seligman,” Hatch reflects. “I came away from his class understanding that the universe is this incredible place where matter, energy, and time engage each other in remarkable ways.”
Meanwhile, in addition to being an astronomer, Seligman is an accomplished pianist and a former American-style ballroom dancer with his wife, Sheri. But he started something new this millennium. He began writing fiction novels in his spare time, which he self-publishes.
“For several years, I have been working on a series of fantasy adventures, the ‘Kingdom of the Sun’ and ‘Bridge Worlds’ novels, about two worlds bound by an ancient struggle between good and evil.”
Seligman got lots of reaction from his first completed novel, “Two Pigs and a Chicken,” which inspired him to write more.
“The novel turned out so well, and response to it was so enthusiastic that I’ve spent most of the succeeding years working on plot development for a series of sequels, the ‘Erindale Tales,’ Seligman said. “The first of these, ‘The Maiden All Forlorn,’ will be published in late 2007 or early 2008.”
To make reservations to the planetarium show, purchase Seligman’s books, or just learn more about astronomy visit www.cseligman.com.
All 85 seats for the Sept. 21 show have been claimed, but reservations can be made for the next show, Oct. 26. Telescope viewing does not require reservations. LBCC parking costs one dollar.