A Shining Star
Manager Callie Barfield brings acting, art and enthusiasm to Ingram Planetarium.
Callie Barfield says when she was growing up in Aynor, South Carolina, her father taught her how to use his telescope and would explain the constellations and phases of the moon. She majored in art at Coastal Carolina University, but she hastens to add that “all my science courses were astronomy based.”
When the job of assistant manager opened at Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach in April 2021, Barfield didn’t hesitate to apply. “When I first came [to the planetarium], I was intrigued and asked for a tour,” she says. She was hired within hours and learned how to present the sky shows. This dovetailed with the job she had as art teacher at Wine & Design in North Myrtle Beach and having lead roles in several stage plays.
“I am comfortable being in front of crowds and instructing people,” she says.
Again, she didn’t hesitate when asked to be planetarium manager, the position she started July 1, 2022.
“I love being able to help inspire a sense of wonder in people,” she says, adding that she is eager to explain all the activities at the planetarium. “The 11 am program (Magic Globe) is our children’s program. That is one of the most exciting for me. You hear their ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’ They are in wonder.”
Her favorite show is Unveiling the Invisible Universe, which tells how telescopes see things in outer space. Visitors especially enjoy The Sky Tonight! “That is our fully live local night sky tour,” she says.
The Mission Mars is a reservations-only, hands-on exhibit that simulates life on that planet. On World Asteroid Day, June 30, the planetarium began an exhibit that has a meteorite in a case and a magnifying lens so viewers can “get up close with a meteorite,” Barfield says.
In August the planetarium will have images from the James Webb telescope, the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built. It allows scientists to see what the universe was like 200 million years after the Big Bang.
The planetarium’s laser music shows, which synchronize music to lights flashing across the sky dome, are popular attractions. The newest additions are songs by Tom Petty and songs by Queen.
Barfield explains that the hurricane simulator, computer programming and a connection to NASA captivate visitors in the Paul Dennis Science Hall, and children especially enjoy the exhibit where they can create their own satellite with building blocks. She painted half of the new addition, the mural that depicts space images associated with North Carolina.
Katherine Hunt, who is the outgoing planetarium manager, writes in an email that Barfield proved she is an asset.
“Our job (in planetariums) is not to actually do science but communicate and engage the public with what the scientists are doing and discovering,” she says. “(Callie) is an extremely talented artist, especially with digital media, and has been a huge asset in creative projects…. I am excited to see how Ingram Planetarium will grow under her vision.”
Besides her acting and artistic talents, Barfield has pursued another endeavor. “I am a fire performer,” she says. “I dance to music while the fire is spinning around me.”
She and her husband, Jason Boyle, are involved with Over the Moon Productions and both perform at Broadway at the Beach. Her heart, though, belongs at the planetarium. “It is a location where the stars are always shining,” she says.
Want to go?
7625 High Market Street, Sunset Beach
Doors open 10:30 am
Dome Theater shows Monday through Saturday 11 am to 3 pm
Laser shows Thursday through Saturday 4, 7 and 8 pm
See website for specific shows and admission costs
Museum of Coastal Carolina
21 E. Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday and Thursday, 10 am to 7 pm
Sunday 12 to 4 pm