Planetarium Frequently Asked Questions
What is a planetarium? Originally the term “planetarium” was applied to what we now call an Orrery, which is a mechanical representation of the solar system. More recently the term “Planetarium” is used to describe the star projector, then the room in which the stars are projected and to the entire building where the “star theater” is located.
When is the planetarium open? Public programs take place on Saturday evenings from late September through mid March. Group programs take place in the late morning during most of the week and on Friday afternoons. Check the schedule on our web site.
Why can’t I come to the planetarium during the week? Or on Sundays? The planetarium is a school planetarium not associated with a Science Center or Museum. Because the planetarium is shared with the College Astronomy Department, the available times for public events are limited.
Why do you only have public shows from September to March? Since the planetarium is part of the Community Education department, it only offers Saturday public programs during the Fall and Winter quarters each year. The planetarium is still open to private rentals and school/group field trips.
What are Laser shows? How are they different from Star shows? Laser shows are purely entertainment based using beautiful, colorful laser projected imagery in synch with selected music. They are very different from astronomy or star shows, which have the goal of educating as well as entertaining.
How long are the Star shows?
Our shows vary in length. The pre-rendered part of the show is 25 to 35 minutes long, the live introduction; tour of the night sky, etc… brings the entire presentation to about an hour long.
Does the dome open? No unlike an observatory, where telescopes are used to view the sky, the planetarium is a ‘sky theater’ where a sky simulation is created. We are unaffected by weather (as long as the power is on).
Is there a telescope? We have portable telescopes that are sometimes used for viewing before or after the shows.
What is a "tour of the night sky"?
A tour of the night sky is a live presentation inside the Dome where our Astronomer displays the Stars using the Star Projector and identifies constellations and planets that are visible at night, during any given season.
Do you have exhibits? Because we have rather small lobby, there are no exhibits like you might find at a science center. A larger lobby and exhibit area are on our wish list. It could have your name on it!
Is there an age limit for the planetarium? We do not set an age limit for children to visit the planetarium. We rely on parents to use their discretion whether a child will be comfortable. It is possible, but not encouraged, for people to leave and re-enter the theater during the show if necessary.
The seat backs are so high, how can small kids see? Our seats are designed for the audience members to see the dome projection screen overhead, not the front of the room. The college astronomy students have to adapt to this and not fall asleep!
Do you accept credit cards? Yes. Visa, MasterCard and Discover
Do you have a gift shop? Yes we do!
Where are the plants? This is a Planetarium not a plant-itarium! Unfortunately, we don’t have planets either. But we can visit them and show you where to look for them in the real sky.