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Stargazing, Exploring Exoplanets and Einstein Highlight July Planetarium Schedule

June 25, 2015
picture of the planet Saturn
Saturn and its moons are projected on the dome ceiling of the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium. The planetarium hosts numerous shows for students and adults during July. (UW Planetarium Photo)

Astronomy buffs will have opportunities to stargaze, explore exoplanets and bone up on their knowledge of Einstein’s theory of relativity during July shows at the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium.

“For July, we have a range of shows that cover the edge of our solar system, planets around other stars, treasures in our Milky Way, and even Einstein’s theory of special relativity,” says Travis Laurence, the planetarium’s director.

Friday night shows have moved to 8 p.m. for the summer to allow time for the sun to set so the rooftop telescope can be shown after select shows. Kid-themed shows have moved to every other Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Tickets cost $2 for students and $3 for non-students, 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.-4:30 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.

Since the renovations were finished last November, 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.

The July planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- Summer Stargazing, Wednesday, July 1, 11 a.m. Summer brings warmer weather and Wyoming provides many perfect locations away from light pollution for optimal stargazing. Summer Stargazing will introduce students to the brightest objects in the night sky and prepare them for enjoying summer evenings under the jewels of our galaxy.

-- Treasures of the Milky Way, Friday, July 3, 8 p.m. Explore dark interstellar clouds that enshroud the births of stars, dazzling nebulae that betray the deaths of stars, globular star clusters and a supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 9 p.m.

-- Einstein’s Universe: Special Relativity, Time Travel and More, Friday, July 10, 8 p.m. Take a journey into the crazy world of special relativity where time slows down, space gets smaller, and truly bizarre physics can happen. Can we travel faster than the speed of light? Is time travel possible? Are there parallel universes? These kinds of questions will be explored during this show. Come ready to be amazed by all the strange possibilities of the universe. A Laser Gaga laser light show follows at 9:10 p.m.

-- Where Have We Been in Space?, Wednesday, July 15, 11 a.m. For the past 50 years, we have been sending spacecraft into space to explore the solar system. But where exactly have we explored? We have lots of satellites around Earth, but we also have satellites around other planets and have even landed on some of those planets. In this show, students will learn about all the space probes and robots from the past 50 years and the cool places they have gone and the cool things they have seen.

-- The Barriers of the Solar System, Friday, July 17, 8 p.m. The magnitude and intricacy of our solar system marvels any onlookers. From the center, the sun, to the farthest limits, the heliosphere, learn what makes up our solar system, the layers of our solar system, and how our solar system works as a whole. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 9 p.m.

-- Exoplanets, Friday, July 24, 8 p.m. Are we alone in the universe? Is the Earth truly unique? In mankind’s search to answer these questions, research has extended beyond the solar system to find planets that orbit other stars called exoplanets. Since this research began, dozens of exoplanets have been discovered. This show will explore methods of discovering exoplanets and what we are looking for as we scour the galaxy for signs of life. A Pink Floyd laser light show follows at 9:10 p.m.

-- Legends of the Sky, Wednesday, July 29, 11 a.m. Orion, Hercules and Perseus are three of the biggest Greek heroes and forever embodied in the sky. How did they get there, what stars are they composed of, where are they going, and how can you find them in the sky? Watch this show to learn these legends’ stories.

-- Full Dome Movie: “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System,” Friday, July 31, 8 p.m. Designed for visitors with an appreciation for the challenges of space science and a desire to learn more about science research, “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System,” follows the creation of NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). Audiences will receive an in-depth look at the mission and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our solar system's boundary. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 9 p.m.

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

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