Randy Olson

Professor Emeritus (Retired 2015)

Contact Information

Ph.D. Astronomy, New Mexico State University
M.S. Astronomy, New Mexico State University
B.M.E. Choral Musical Education, Physical Science Education, University of WI - Eau Claire

ASTR 205 - The Solar System
ASTR 206 - Stars and Stellar Systems
ASTR 311 - Introduction to Astronomy

After Dr. Olson finished his thesis on planetary nebulae structure in 1985, that fall he joined the faculty of the UW-SP. Initially assistant professor Olson taught both the year long (two semester) astronomy courses and directed the Planetarium. In 1992, associate professor Olson also took over the duties of Observatory Director. He was instrumental in overseeing the purchase, upgrade, and installation of a new state-of-the-art planetarium instrument in 1999.  In 2000 professor Olson was involved in UW-SP joining with the WIYN 0.9m consortium, which manages the operation of the 0.9m telescope at KPNO. He has accompanied several UW-SP students to that telescope for research observations. He has been heavily involved with faculty governance since 1987 and was elected faculty senate chairperson from Fall 2009 - Fall 2011, was re-elected to a second term through Fall 2013, and has been elected for a third term lasting until Fall 2015. He has also been actively involved in state, regional and international professional planetarium organizations during his tenure at UW-SP.

Since I arrived in the fall of 1985 we have presented over 9,000 programs in the planetarium to more than 300,000 visitors. During my tenure, the UW-SP planetarium has consistently been one of the busiest planetariums in the state with over 11,000 visitors a year.
From 1997 until 2004 (when the magazine ended) I was a contributing author for NewMonth magazine writing the Sky Lights articles. 
Conferences and Presentations
Yearly attendance at the Great Lakes Planetarium Association conference with a few of the student planetarium lecturers.

Yearly attendance at the Wisconsin Iowa Minnesota Planetarium Society with some of the student planetarium lecturers.

The following planetarium presentations:

- Light Years from Andromeda, and Adventures Along the Spectrum
- More than Meets the Eye, and Season of Light
- The Voyager Encounters, Clouds of Fire: the Creation of Stars, and Death of the Dinosaurs
- The Power, Explorers of Mauna Kea, and Mars Quest
- Aurora!, Journey to the Stars, and Winter Wonders
2003 - The Stargazer
- Comets are Coming! and In Search of New Worlds
- Ring World and Hubble Vision
2006 - The Dawn of Astronomy
- Stellar Extremes and Into the Universe (a student production)
2008 - Gods of the Solar System (a student production)
2009 - Sky Quest and Bad Astronomy

Professional Affiliations
  • American Astronomical Society (AAS)
  • Astronomical Society of the Pacific (Link)
  • International Planetarium Society (IPS)
  • Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA)
  • The Inernational Dark Sky Association (IDA)
  • Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ)
  • The Planetary Society (Link)

<< Back to faculty page