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Explore the Moon, Sun and Planet Uranus During August Planetarium Shows

July 30, 2015
the planet uranus with its moons
The planet Uranus will be the subject of one of the programs at the Harry C. Vaughan UW Planetarium during August. (UW Planetarium Photo)

During August, visitors to the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium will have the opportunity to explore the sun and the moon; discover more about the planet Uranus; learn the history of astronomy; and even make ice cream from liquid nitrogen.

“These shows will explore constellations and mythology, water in the universe, the mighty Uranus and the history of astronomy,” says Travis Laurance, the planetarium’s director. “Our kid-themed Wednesday shows will include optional activities after the show. On Aug. 5, we will take guests to our rooftop to view the sun through our solar telescope. On the 19th of August, guests can stay after to see (and then eat) ice cream made with liquid nitrogen!”

Friday night shows have moved to 8 p.m. for the summer to allow time for the sun to set so guests can look through the rooftop telescope 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 August planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- Full-Dome Movie: “Back to the Moon for Good,” Wednesday, Aug. 5, 11 a.m. The days of lunar exploration peaked in the 1960s and ‘70s. They started with a dream to send a man to space and ended with astronauts walking, driving and even golfing on the lunar surface. But man has not set foot on the moon for more than 40 years. “Back to the Moon for Good” explores the Google Lunar X-Prize: mankind’s renewed dream to get back to the moon, this time for good. After the show, the group is invited to the rooftop to observe the sun.

-- A Midsummer Night’s Sky, Friday, Aug. 7, 8 p.m. As summer draws to a close and the sun sets earlier in the evening, a new myriad of stars and constellations become visible. These newly visible wonders and the planets that accompany them in our evening sky will be explored. A Led Zeppelin Unbound laser light show follows at 9 p.m.

-- Uranus, Friday, Aug. 14, 8 p.m. The father of Saturn and the grandfather of Jupiter, Uranus continually plays an important role in our solar system. Pale blue and farther away than 1 billion miles, Uranus has intrigued humans since the 18th century. This program will explore this gas giant, and discover basic and advanced information of Uranus.

 -- A Journey to Absolute Zero, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 11 a.m. The solar system has a wide range of climates. If you thought Laramie had temperamental weather, join this program that explores just how extreme the temperatures of the universe can be. The program will start with the temperature as hot as possible, with an effort to make it down to absolute zero. After the show, patrons are welcome to make and eat liquid nitrogen ice cream.

-- Water, Water Everywhere, Friday, Aug. 21, 8 p.m. More than two-thirds of the Earth is covered in liquid water. Where did all that water come from, and does it exist elsewhere in our solar system? This program will explore the potential for liquid water in the solar system and what that could mean for the existence of extraterrestrial life. A U2 laser light show follows at 9 p.m.

-- The History of Astronomy, Friday, Aug. 28, 8 p.m. Since ancient times, astronomy -- the study of the cosmos -- has been an integral part of science, religions and cultures around the world. In this engaging show, learn all about the people, myths, legends and discoveries in astronomy through the ages -- from ancient Greek philosophers and their thought experiments to modern day cosmologists and theoretical physicists. Embark on a journey through time and explore the history of astronomy.

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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