About this film

“Luminous” tells the story of the first astronomer in history to publicly predict the near-future explosion of a star. But will he be right? Others in the astronomical community are skeptical, and professional reputations hang in the balance. In production since 2014, “Luminous” follows Calvin College astronomy professor Larry Molnar’s five-year journey to test his unprecedented prediction, knowing that its success or failure will unfold squarely in the international spotlight. Michigan premiere. 

AFTER THE FILM: The post-film discussion will include director Sam Smartt and film subject Larry Molnar led by Michigan Science Center’s Paulette Epstein.

Following the chat, Molnar will give a planetarium presentation called “The Backstory of Contact Binary Stars.” His description: “It has been directly shown that contact binary stars end their long lives by merging in an explosive event known as a red nova. What are the steps that take these special binary stars (orbiting so closely they are touching) from a long, tranquil relationship to the inevitability of a violent end? This presentation will reveal the backstory we have recently uncovered.”


1 p.m. Sun., May 1, Michigan Science Center (Planetarium) 

Available virtually


Sam Smartt

Sam Smartt, Kemp Lyons

Sam Smartt, Kemp Lyons

Solitude Sessions

Sam Smartt

Country of origin:
United States


Running time:
1 hour, 35 minutes

Film website 

Festival highlights:
Julien Dubuque International Film Festival