Guam - Will the stars go out at the island's only planetarium? A roundtable discussion was held today on the closure of the University of Guam Planetarium. "I don't want us to take the universe out of the university," said Pat Pexa.

The retired teacher has fond memories of taking her students to the planetarium. "It is one of the few places we can take children on fieldtrips that's a real legitimate science thing. I'd just like us to think bigger not smaller," she said.

But according to UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood the stars don't align with the university's mission as he hopes to convert the space to a lecture hall that could offer an additional 14 classes with 50 to 70 students per class every semester. He said, "Through the use of the latest technology and available educational tools we suggest that the planetarium experience can be replicated in several schools perhaps starting with the STEM schools in GDOE. Through the purchase of portable planetariums, this will ensure the learning experience will fulfill learning objectives and will be available to many more thousands of children on a regular more curricularly sound and convenient basis."

Although there's funds to help the planetarium make the move or purchase four to six portable systems, planetarium coordinator Pam Eastlick hopes to use that money to upgrade the 20-year-old system she operates. "If you put this system in place it becomes an immersion theater and every professor at the university can be taught to program it and can use it for their classes," she said.

Sustaining the facility is another issue as Eastlick says she would be forced to charge $10 per person to cover the $70,000 to operate the facility annually, but by law can't charge locals. "The charter basically for it says that the people of Guam since they have paid for it will never be charged for its use," she said.

With relocation as an alternative, Speaker Judi Won Pat says she's been eyeing venues with a high enough ceiling for the facility, including the Guam International Airport and Okkodo High School. "I have seen the plans of the expansion of Okkodo High School where they're going to build an extension and they're talking about an open atrium," she said.

If closure is the final decision, science lover Bob Kelley hopes UOG can give the planetarium a few more years while leaders look into building a children's museum to include a planetarium. "Let's get started with a children's museum," he speculated. "I would hope because it would take several years in all honesty to build a children's museum like I'm talking about that we might be able to impose on the university to keep the planetarium going until we have it."