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February Full of UW Planetarium Shows

January 30, 2015
group of people watching planetarium show, with planets shown above them
This crowd looks to the heavens during a December star show at the Harry C. Vaughan UW Planetarium. More of the popular star and laser shows are scheduled this month. (UW Photo)

A visit to the Milky Way, a mission to Saturn, an exploration of Earth and a night sky afternoon show for children highlight this month’s shows at the newly renovated Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium.

There have been a couple of changes to the schedule this month, says Travis Laurance, the planetarium director. Laser shows, which previously started at 8 p.m., have been moved to 8:20 p.m. In addition, a kid-themed show has been added to the schedule for a Saturday afternoon.

“Our February shows will take the audience from our Mother Earth, to Saturn and beyond to some of the treasures that are within our own Milky Way,” Laurance says. “We also are excited to introduce our first kid-themed Saturday Show on the 21st. This show will be an excellent introduction to the night sky for young, budding astronomers.”

Tickets cost $2 for students and $3 for nonstudents, and can be purchased at the Department of Physics main office, located in Room 204 of the Physical Sciences Building, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-noon. Doors open 20 minutes before each show, where tickets will be sold if available. The planetarium, which seats 58, is located in the basement of the Physical Sciences Building.

“We’ve been selling out every show and turning people away. It has been so popular,” Laurance says.

Since the renovations were finished, the full-dome shows now provide immersive 3-D experiences. Traditional star shows have been replaced with far more interactive presentations, similar to an IMAX theater. Laser shows consist of three lasers (red, blue and green) that project graphics on the dome. The lasers are synchronized with music, and pre-programmed graphics and images are displayed.

This month’s planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- Treasures of the Milky Way, Friday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. Explore dark interstellar clouds that enshroud the birth of stars, dazzling nebulas that betray the deaths of stars, globular star clusters and a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. A Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band laser show follows at 8:20 p.m.

-- Cassini: 10 Years of Saturn and Counting, Friday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. This show will explore the joint NASA and ESA Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and all that has been discovered in the past decade while in orbit around Saturn. The program also looks to the future to see what Cassini has in store for the coming years. A Best of Pink Floyd laser show follows at 8:20 p.m.

-- Mother Earth, Friday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. In mankind’s exploration of the solar system and beyond, a planet similar to Earth has yet to be discovered. What makes our planet unique? Why is there life on Earth? This show will explore the pieces that came together to make Earth habitable. A Best of U2 laser show follows at 8:20 p.m.

-- Welcome to the Night Sky, Saturday, Feb. 21, 4 p.m. In the first of youth-centered weekend astronomy shows, different kinds of objects that exist in the universe and solar system will be discussed. Star clusters, galaxies, planets and moons will be explored.

-- The Night Sky in Your Hands, Friday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. The cost of buying a telescope often puts off new amateur astronomers. This doesn’t have to be the case. Many celestial objects can be viewed with a moderate pair of binoculars. Free astronomy software for those all-too-common cloudy nights will be discussed. A Daft Punk laser show follows at 8:20 p.m.

For more information, go to www.uwyo.edu/physics/ and click on “Planetarium is Open!” on the left-side navigation bar, call (307) 766-6150, or email physics@uwyo.edu.


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Chad Baldwin

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