“Silent Sky” changes the way we look at the night sky

“Silent Sky” changes the way we look at the night sky

Posted on Friday, November 03, 2023

LC Musical Theatre to debut play on astronomy

In the early 1900s at Harvard University, a group of dedicated women who were passionate about the stars transformed the field of astronomy. Though not given credit for their discoveries in the male-dominated world of science until much later in their lives, they paved the way for future generations of scientists both male and female. Three of these female pioneers, Henrietta Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon and Williamina Fleming, are characters in the LC Theatre Arts production of Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky.”

“The play is based on the true story of these extraordinary women astronomers labeled ‘human computers’ at the Harvard Observatory where they diligently and painstakingly mapped over 350,000 stars on glass photographic plates,” said Director Kim Barber Knoll, Professor of Theatre Arts. “The women were not allowed to touch or use The Great Refractor telescope which Observatory Director Edward Pickering used entirely for photometry at the turn of the century. This did not stop Miss Leavitt. Working during her ‘free time’ late into the night, she discovered a way to measure beyond the galaxy as she mapped the universe.”

Sophomore Isabella Rapoza, who plays the role of Henrietta, said her character’s life and relationships are as complex as the universe.

“Henrietta is trying to figure out how to navigate her life since leaving her family behind to pursue the dream of being an astronomer,” she said. “She receives guidance from her relationship with Annie and Williamina. But her most powerful relationship is the stars themselves.”

Senior Carlie Jones, who plays the role of Williamina, said her character laid the groundwork for women like Henrietta to make achievements in the field of astronomy.

“She started as Pickering’s housekeeper and because he thought ‘women could do the job of mapping the stars better than boys,’ he hired her at the Observatory,” she said. She became the first woman to be given an official title at Harvard University, publishing the famous ‘Draper Catalogue’ of star classification based on color. She was very drawn to Henrietta and she wanted all women to be credited and compensated for their outstanding work and contributions to astronomy.”

Henrietta expanded on the work of her fellow peer Annie Jump Cannon, who developed a system used to classify stars based on temperature instead of just colors alone like Williamina.

Senior Annabell Sapp, who plays the role of Annie, said her character has a change in heart over the course of the show.

“Though skeptical of Henrietta and her abilities at first, Annie’s faith in her grows as she realizes the magnitude of Henrietta’s work,” she said. “Annie is a champion of women’s rights, and Henrietta’s independence and drive serves as a catalyst for her.”

Margaret Leavitt, played by sophomore Aubrey Helton, is as passionate about music as her sister Henrietta is about astronomy.

“Her ultimate dream is to be a famous musician one day,” she said. “She tries to stay connected to Henrietta through letters when she leaves for Harvard, but they drift apart. Margaret is determined to mend her relationship with her sister, and she is there when Henrietta needs her most.”

“It’s a beautifully written play,” Barber Knoll said. “Moving, romantic and humorous. And the stars play a significant role as well.”

The show opens Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. and runs Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. with two shows on Friday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Seating is general admission—no reservations are necessary. It is recommended that patrons arrive early. The show is free for LC faculty, staff and students; $10 for adults and free for children under 12.


Campus Notes

Faculty member recognized by fraternity
  • Political Science Professor Dr. John Tures was recently named by the Alpha Delta Gamma national fraternity as the Rev. Leo Foley Outstanding Educator of the Year. Pictured with Dr. Tures is junior Daniel Cody, student representative for the national organization.

Art and Music event

  • The Fine and Performing Arts Department will be hosting an open house for high school students and teachers on Monday, Nov. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at West Side, Price Theater and Lamar Dodd Art Center. Attendees to the Music event are asked to sign up online.
  • Prospective students and their families are invited to come to campus for the second Fall Preview Day on Saturday, Nov. 11. To sign up, visit the Preview Day website.
  • Daylight Saving Time will end this weekend. Clocks will be turned back one hour Saturday night.


Collegiate Enrichment Events

Poverty Simulation

Sunday, Nov. 5

2 p.m., Dickson Assembly Room

  • Sherri Brown, Executive Director of Circles of Troup County, will present a live-action exercise on poverty. Students will participate and get firsthand experience of the plight of poverty.

Remembering Your Why

Wednesday, Nov. 8

3 p.m., Lewis Library Multimedia Classroom

  • Dr. Zelda Kitt, Troup County School System's Teacher of the Year, will share stories of her experiences as a teacher and administrator.

Scholarship Donor Thank You

Thursday, Nov. 9

11 a.m., Caswell Plaza

  • Students who have received scholarships will have the opportunity to sign thank you cards for their donors.

Rev. Dr. Brian Tillman: DEI and Racial Healing

Thursday, Nov. 9

11:15 a.m., Dickson Assembly Room

  • Rev. Dr. Brian Tillman, Director of Inclusion and Advocacy for the North Georgia United Methodist Conference, will speak about racial healing and provide a framework on how to dismantle racist systems, structures, policies and practices in the organized church and our world. This event is open to all students regardless of their religion.


Video of the Week

LaGrange College is a Best Value

LaGrange College has been ranked 12th among 99 Regional Colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report. To develop the 2024 rankings, U.S. News evaluated 1,500 bachelor's degree-granting institutions on 19 measures reflecting academic quality and graduate outcomes. For more information, visit


November Faculty and Staff Birthdays

1 – Nick Beamenderfer, Athletics (Baseball)

1 – Kerry Kenner, Enrollment Management and Student Experience

2 – Simon Hwang, Mathematics

5 – Melvin Hall, Chemistry

15 – Karen Leeper, Psychological Sciences

25 – Paul Hammock, Music

27 – Kendal Wallace, Athletics (Men’s Basketball)

28 – Kelly Veal, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

28 – Patti Hoxsie, Advancement




Game against Brevard

The Panthers lost 30-20 to Brevard last weekend. The final game of the season will be at Methodist on Saturday, Nov. 4. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Women’s Soccer

Match against Piedmont

LaGrange traveled to Piedmont for the CCS Conference Tournament Quarterfinals and lost 2-1 to the Lions in a hard-fought match on Saturday, Oct. 28. This defeat ended the season for LC.

Men’s Basketball

Exhibition at Alabama State

The Panthers competed in an exhibition against Alabama State and lost 90-69 on Monday, Oct. 30. LaGrange will open the regular season at home against Birmingham-Southern on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.

Cross Country

Cross Country conference championship

LaGrange competed in the CCS Championship on Saturday, Oct. 28. Junior Santiago Vasquez ran a 31:35.60 8k which placed him 24th overall and first for the Panthers. Sophomore Katie Gonzalez came in first for the Panthers in the women’s 6k with a 37:06.00. This put her 44th overall. The teams will run in the NCAA regional on Sunday, Nov. 12.


Tri match against Maryville and Agnes Scott

The Panthers went 1-1 in their last home tri-match on Saturday, Oct. 28. They lost their first match to Maryville and won against Agnes Scott. On Tuesday’s senior night, LaGrange played Point and lost the match in five sets. The team will head to Huntingdon to compete in the first round of the CCS Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 7.


Panther Calendar

(Please note that schedules may change due to circumstances beyond our control. Please check to confirm.)

Saturday, Nov. 4 – Football at Methodist, 1 p.m., Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tuesday, Nov. 7 – Volleyball (CCS Tournament First Round) at Huntingdon, 7 p.m., Montgomery, Alabama

Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Men’s Basketball (Home) vs. Birmingham-Southern, 7 p.m., Mariotti Gym

Category: Arts and Culture, Events, Academics

Keywords: Astronomy, Science

Press Contact

Lindy Oller

Last updated: 11/03/2023