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December Planetarium Schedule Provides Introductory Programs for Stargazers

November 25, 2015
telescope photo of outer space with nebula
This is an image of the Orion Nebula, which is located in the center of this famous winter constellation. The edge of the large nebula is located on the left, and a dense pocket of gas is on the right. This is one of many shining newborn stars in the Orion Nebula. (UW Planetarium Photo)

Long December nights provide plenty of opportunities for the public to gaze at the skies during programs scheduled next month at the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium.

“The UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium is finishing this year with a series of introductory shows for aspiring sky gazers and astronomers of all ages,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “From the icy regions of the solar system to the stars and constellations beyond, audiences will be thrilled to start or continue the journey of discovering our universe.”

Ogden reminds attendees to bring a coat and gloves when STAR Observatory tours are offered on the roof during select nights. 

Friday shows start at 7 p.m. during the fall, with a laser light show or a STAR Observatory tour scheduled to follow approximately an hour later. Kid-themed shows are scheduled Saturdays at 11 a.m.

Tickets cost $3 for students and $4 for non-students, and can be purchased at the Department of Physics and Astronomy 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.

Since the renovations were finished in November 2014, 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.

Due to UW’s Winter Break and the holidays, the planetarium will not offer shows during the last two weekends of the year.

The December planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “This Month’s Sky: December,” Friday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m. If you can brave the cold, December offers the longest nights of the year for stargazing. This program will introduce visitors to the most famous of the sky’s wintertime gems, how to find them and what they are. A Best of Pink Floyd laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “Constellations for Beginners,” Saturday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m. This program is an introduction to the tales told by the ancient Greeks who created our favorite constellations. This event includes an interactive star walk through the night sky and the stories and tales that piece it together. After the show, create your own constellation and write its origin story to receive a stellar prize.

-- “Ice Dwarves,” Friday, Dec. 11, 7 p.m. More than 4 billion miles away there is an area of mystery and the unknown: the Trans-Neptunian Region. Every day, scientists learn more about this region that continues to be largely influential in our solar system. Watch this show to discover the facts of TNOs (Trans-Neptunian Objects) like Pluto and Charon, how they changed the definition of a planet and what humans have been doing to learn more about the Region. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Greek Mythology,” Friday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. Ancient civilizations used the night sky as a clock, calendar and story board for their unique mythologies. The 88 constellations that piece the sky together are dominated by ancient Greek mythology. This program will connect the dots to discover the shapes and characters that lie in these constellations, and help astronomers navigate the night sky. A Winter Wonderland laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “An Introduction to Astronomy,” Saturday, Dec. 19, 11 a.m. What do you see when you look up at the night sky? How can you use the night sky to tell you what time of year it is? How can you tell the difference between a star and a planet? Perfect for aspiring astronomers and sky gazers, this program answers all of these questions and more with an introduction to the wonders of our galaxy and universe beyond. After the show, visitors will celebrate the end of finals week with a Winter Wonderlight laser light show.

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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