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UW Planetarium’s April Programs Focus on Easter, Earth and Some Foolishness

March 30, 2017
view of the earth from space
April 22 is Earth Day. This image of Earth captures its beauty. Our atmosphere is visible as a thin line around the edge of the planet on the daytime (left) side. At the top, and on the nighttime side of the Earth, you can spot the Northern Lights, a beautiful effect of the solar wind on the Earth’s upper atmosphere. (UW Planetarium Photo)

Easter, Earth and a little foolishness highlight programs at the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium during April.

“The month of April showers us with holidays: April Fools’ Day, Easter and Earth Day all occur this month,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “And the UW Planetarium has created shows and activities to celebrate them all!”

Friday planetarium shows during April start at 8 p.m., with a STAR Observatory tour scheduled to follow approximately an hour later. Kid-themed shows are scheduled Saturdays at 11 a.m. The month also includes three Tuesday night shows; all begin at 7 p.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.

The April planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “Don’t Be Fooled,” Saturday, April 1, 11 a.m. Every year, on April 1, the custom of April Fools’ Day is to tell fun hoaxes and plan practical jokes. Did you know that the earth has three moons? How about that Jupiter is a giant vacuum cleaner? These are some hoaxes that are, in fact, true. This morning’s show is all about all the crazy and bizarre, but true things in space. After the show, patrons can attend a physics magic show. These experiments are not hoaxes or practical jokes, but just good old physics magic.

-- “This Month’s Sky,” Tuesday, April 4, 7 p.m. As the months and seasons change in Wyoming, new astronomical events occur in the nighttime sky. No matter what time of year, there is always something to see after the sun goes down. From constellations to meteor showers to visible planets, this program acts as your guide to these remarkable events and where to find them.

-- “Society of Physics Students (SPS) Presents: The Weird, Bizarre and Stranger Things of Space,” Friday, April 7, 8 p.m. The universe is really good at making things difficult for humans to understand, and scientists work hard to figure out how it all works. But, every once in a while, the universe throws us a curveball. Stars with the same mass as our sun but the size of Laramie; planets made entirely of diamonds; balls of fried ice cream orbiting the sun: These are just a few of the stranger things that will be explored during this show sponsored by the UW SPS. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 9 p.m.

-- “Tonight’s Sky: A Different View,” Friday, April 14, 8 p.m. About 2,500 years ago, the Greek civilization revolutionized the way we see the night sky. Currently, 88 official constellations piece together the stars, most with a story dating back to Greek mythology. However, the Greeks were not the only civilization to look at and tell stories in stars. Tonight’s show honors the Northern Native American culture and its night sky. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 9 p.m.

-- “Easter Eggs in Space,” Saturday, April 15, 11 a.m. An Easter egg hunt will take place in space. This program will explore the night sky beyond the stars to discover deep sky objects. Beautiful, yet difficult to find, these are the night sky's hidden gems. And, visitors will find as many of these cosmic Easter eggs as possible. After the show, patrons will have the chance to go on their own stellar Easter egg hunt for a chance to win fun prizes.

-- “This Month’s Sky,” Tuesday, April 18, 7 p.m. As the months and seasons change in Wyoming, new astronomical events occur in the nighttime sky. No matter what time of year, there is always something to see after the sun goes down. From constellations to meteor showers to visible planets, this program acts as your guide to these remarkable events and where to find them.

-- “The Perfect Planet,” Friday, April 21, 8 p.m. In celebration of Earth Day, tonight will take a look at the amazing planet Earth and everything that makes it a planet full of life. Visitors will look at the Goldilocks Zone, the planets of Venus and Mars, and why our closest neighbors cannot support life like Earth. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 9 p.m.

-- A full-dome movie double feature, “Seeing” and “Back to the Moon for Good,” Tuesday, April 25, 7 p.m. Ride a photon across the galaxy to your mind's eye and experience how we see. “Seeing” follows a photon’s creation and journey across the galaxy to a young stargazer’s eye. From there, witness the conversion to an electro-chemical impulse that then travels the neuropathways of the brain to the various centers that create the image the brain sees.

Thanks to numerous landers and orbiters, humankind explored and learned a great deal about Earth’s closest neighbor in the 1960s and ‘70s. But we haven’t been to the moon in more than 40 years. That is about to change. The full-dome feature film “Back to the Moon for Good” follows numerous teams in competition to land on the moon in an attempt to win the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. Designed to spark creativity and innovation in 21st century space travel, the XPRIZE is inspiring students and citizens to head back to the moon -- for good.

-- “Aboriginal Skies: Land of the Lightning People,” Friday, April 28, 8 p.m. John Stocke, a University of Colorado-Boulder professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences, will be joined by Paul Taylor, an Australian storyteller and educator, to present this program. The two will explore the creation story and ancient rock art that describes Aboriginal beliefs about the heavens. Visitors will discover the sky the way the Wardaman view it, based on research conducted with Bill Yidumduma Harney, senior elder of the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory in Australia. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 9 p.m.


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