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UW Planetarium Shows to Start Earlier Beginning in November

October 26, 2017
star field
This month’s photo is an image few Wyoming residents have seen: the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky. The large and small Magellanic clouds are visible in the lower central portion of the image, and the Milky Way stretches across the sky. Looking closely on the left side of the image, are famous dark patches of the Milky Way, so prominent that some southern constellations are “dark constellations” in the dark patches of sky rather than the “bright constellations” created by connecting the stars that are familiar in the northern skies. (UW Planetarium Photo)

With longer fall night skies, shows at the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will begin an hour earlier during November. The schedule will continue during the winter months.

“Nights grow longer in Wyoming’s winter months and, despite the chill, display beautiful constellations and a famous annual meteor shower. Be sure to bundle up and catch a glimpse of our stunning night sky this month,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “To see beyond the evening sky, join us at the UW Planetarium to explore what our eyes cannot see. From the stages of the stellar life cycle to the beauty of the southern skies, and on to cosmic objects too small or distant to see from Earth, this November at the planetarium helps you to observe more than meets the eye in our evening skies.”

Friday planetarium shows during November start an hour earlier at 7 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 four Tuesday night shows beginning at 7 p.m. One Thursday night show is scheduled, which also begins 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.-4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-noon. Tickets also can be purchased by going online at www.uwyo.edu/physics/ and clicking on “Planetarium Schedule.” 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 November planetarium schedule is:

-- “Stellar Evolution in our Winter Skies,” Friday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m. When out stargazing this month, you may find a popular shape or two. Both the Big Dipper and Orion will be visible in the evening skies. While looking at these famous constellations, observers also will see the various stages in the stellar life cycle as stars form, shine and eventually run out of fuel in the galaxy. This program will help visitors discover that their favorite constellations contain more than meets the eye. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Distant Worlds - Alien Life,” Saturday, Nov. 4, 11 a.m. When looking up at the night sky, we are looking out into the universe. Does alien life exist out there? In this show, visitors will journey outward to see what it takes for life to develop -- starting with life on Earth and moving out to the rest of our solar system and on to alien planets that orbit distant stars in our galaxy. What might be essential for alien life on distant moons or planets, and how could we detect it?

-- “Aboriginal Skies: Land of the Lightning People,” Thursday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. Paul Taylor, an Australian storyteller and educator, presents this program that explores the creation story and ancient rock art describing Aboriginal beliefs about the heavens. Visitors will discover the sky the way the Wardaman view it, based on research done with Bill Yidumduma Harney, senior elder of the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory in Australia.

-- “Aboriginal Skies: Land of the Lightning People,” Friday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m. Taylor repeats his program from the previous evening. A free STAR Observatory tour (weather dependent) follows at 8:30 p.m.

-- “Seeing,” Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. Ride a photon across the galaxy to your mind's eye and experience how we see. This program follows a photon’s creation and journey across the galaxy to a young stargazer’s eye. From there, visitors will witness the conversion to an electrochemical impulse that then travels the neuro-pathways of the brain to the various centers that create the image the brain sees.

-- “Race to the Moon,” Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. The 60th anniversary of mankind’s first step into space was celebrated Oct. 4. Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth, launched in 1957. The launch of Sputnik also marked the start of the space race, with the Soviet Union in the lead. The program will explore the race to the moon between the United States and Soviet Union; who eventually won the space race and why; and current and future plans to continue manned exploration of our solar system.

-- “Tour the Solar System: Beyond the Planets,” Saturday, Nov. 18, 11 a.m. Tour the sun, planets, moons, comets, asteroids and more. There is so much in the Earth’s cosmic neighborhood to explore. Take a tour of our solar system -- starting at the sun and ending at the edge of the solar system. See and learn about all of the objects -- familiar and unfamiliar -- that orbit around the sun. After the show, visitors will explore the scale of our solar system, from the sun to the Earth, and out to Pluto and further.

-- “This Month’s Sky,” Tuesday, Nov. 21, 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.

-- “Seeing,” Tuesday, Nov. 28, 7 p.m. Ride a photon across the galaxy to your mind's eye and experience how we see. This program follows a photon’s creation and journey across the galaxy to a young stargazer’s eye. From there, visitors will witness the conversion to an electrochemical impulse that then travels the neuro-pathways of the brain to the various centers that create the image the brain sees.

The planetarium will be closed Friday, Nov. 24, for the Thanksgiving weekend.


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