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Summer Solstice, Activity Challenge Highlight June Planetarium Schedule at UW

May 31, 2018
logo of summer astronomy challenge
This summer, the UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium features its third annual Summer of Astronomy Activity Challenge. The event is designed to get families and kids outside and participate in backyard astronomy. (UW Planetarium Photo)

During June, the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will celebrate the summer solstice and once again host its annual Summer of Astronomy Activity Challenge.

“We will be celebrating the solstice throughout the month, taking time during planetarium shows to show and explain what it is all about,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “And our ‘This Month’s Sky’ show will especially highlight this.”

The summer solstice, considered the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, falls on Thursday, June 21.

For the third consecutive year, the planetarium hosts its Summer of Astronomy Activity Challenge, where prizes include astronaut ice cream, and astronomy posters and books. Approximately 10 families have participated each summer, but more are welcome, Ogden says.

“The objective is to encourage families and kids to go outside and look up to notice aspects of backyard astronomy, both big and small,” Ogden explains. “Activities include looking for the North Star and noticing how stars appear to rotate around it; finding Greek constellations or creating your own; and sketching the moon over several nights.”

For more information, go to www.wyomingspacegrant.org/planetarium/ to download the activity packet and learn how to win stellar prizes this summer. 

Kid-themed planetarium shows are Saturdays at 11 a.m. The month also includes four Tuesday night shows; they 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.-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.

The June planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “Astronomy Myth Busters,” Friday, June 1, 8 p.m. There are some astronomy questions that lead to many misconceptions. This program will bust myths and misconceptions about space. The STAR Observatory on the rooftop of the Physical Sciences Building will be open to the public 8-10 p.m. Weather permitting, telescopes will be set up to peer into the evening sky.

-- “This Month’s Sky,” Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m. This program looks at constellations, meteor showers and visible planets. The summer solstice also will be discussed.

-- “Into the Dark: The Ghost of the Cosmos,” Friday, June 8, 8 p.m. Dark matter, one of the great mysteries of modern astronomy, will be discussed.

-- “Our Closest Star,” Saturday, June 9, 11 a.m. This program will examine the sun, our closest star, and its effects -- good and bad -- on Earth. After the show, visitors can safely take a closer look with a sun viewing at the STAR Observatory.

-- Full-dome movie, “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter,” Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m. This film explores dark matter, from the Big Bang to its anticipated discovery at the Large Hadron Collider.

-- “Overcoming Armageddon,” Friday, June 15, 8 p.m. Popular science fiction movies like “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” explore the danger wayward space rocks impose on Earth. This program will look at these small cosmic bodies. The STAR Observatory on the rooftop of the Physical Sciences Building will be open to the public 8-10 p.m. Weather permitting, telescopes will be set up to peer into the evening sky.

-- Full-dome movie, “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter,” Tuesday, June 19, 7 p.m. This film explores dark matter, from the Big Bang to its anticipated discovery at the Large Hadron Collider.

-- “E.T. and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life,” Friday, June 22, 8 p.m. This program explores the possibilities of whether alien life exists in our own solar system and beyond.

-- “Our Perfect Earth,” Saturday, June 23, 11 a.m. This program will take a closer look at Earth and how our atmosphere, climate and place in the “Goldilocks Zone” come together to make Earth suitable for life. Visitors can stay after the show to make a stained-glass Earth.

-- Full-dome movie, “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter,” Tuesday, June 26, 7 p.m. This film explores dark matter, from the Big Bang to its anticipated discovery at the Large Hadron Collider.

-- “Future Skies,” Friday, June 29, 8 p.m. This program introduces visitors to the night sky’s long-term evolution.

For more detailed descriptions of these programs, go to www.wyomingspacegrant.org/planetarium/shows/.

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