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Longtime Peoria planetarium director to retire

Published: Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 2:30 p.m. CDT

PEORIA (AP) — The longtime planetarium director at a Peoria museum is retiring after more than three decades of helping people learn about the cosmos.

Sheldon Schafer will leave the Peoria Riverfront Museum at the end of the month, according to the (Peoria) Journal Star (http://bit.ly/L29AiG ).

Sometimes referred to as "Mr. Space," the 65-year-old figures he's overseen planetarium trips for about 1 million people, including about 500,000 schoolchildren.

"Teachers bringing their students to the planetarium tell me that they first met me when they came here as students themselves," Schafer told the newspaper. "Actually, that has been happening a lot lately."

Schafer first began working at the Peoria planetarium in 1976. Over the years he traveled the globe to see total eclipses of the sun and starred in a Discovery Channel documentary about his work on a solar system model. Schafer even has an asteroid named after him. It's called 17601 Sheldonschafer.

He plans to continue teaching astronomy at Bradley University, where he's been a professor for 67 consecutive semesters.

"He will be impossible to replace," said Renae Kerrigan, who took his class at Bradley and now works at the museum. "What can you say, he's Mr. Space."

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Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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