A graduate of Ohio State University and Wagner College with advanced degrees in astronomy and education, Sheldon Schafer has dedicated his life to inspiring the young (and young at heart) to reach for the stars. The longtime planetarium director at Lakeview Museum, Schafer retired earlier this year having stoked the curiosities of a half-million schoolchildren—and about the same number of adults—since first arriving in Peoria in 1976. Schafer’s life has been full of adventure, from his 27 months in the Peace Corps, where he met his wife Mary Ann, to creating the world’s largest model of the solar system. A longtime instructor at Bradley University and two-time Green Party candidate for Congress, Schafer even has an asteroid belt named for him—the 17601 Sheldonschafer.

  1. What are you most proud of? My service in the U.S. Peace Corps in Nagarjuna Sagar, India. My wife was stationed in the same village with me.
  2. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Completing the world’s largest model of the solar system, then appearing on NPR’s All Things Considered and being recognized in the Guinness Book of Records as a featured record holder.
  3. Greatest extravagance: Travel to an exotic location.
  4. Favorite leisure activity: Planning my travels to exotic locations. I’ve been to 43 countries and hope to go to a dozen more.
  5. My life won’t be complete until I… go to Antarctica (and if things were to work out, the South Pole.)
  6. Secret ambition: To be selected as a participant for The Amazing Race.
  7. Favorite film: Contact, adapted from the Carl Sagan novel (IMHO, Jodie Foster’s greatest movie).
  8. The one TV show I don’t usually tell people I watch is… Dancing with the Stars.
  9. What is it that you most dislike? The two-party system. We so need multiple parties.
  10. Favorite sport to watch: College football. Go Bucks! OH-I-O! a&s