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UW Planetarium Program Will Explore Perseverance Mission to Mars During March

February 25, 2021
view of Mars from Perseverance craft
This is Perseverance’s view of the Jezero Crater on Mars. The UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will offer a program on the subject, titled “Exploration of Mars: Viking to Perseverance,” Friday, March 26, at 7 p.m. (UW Planetarium Photo)

A show about Perseverance, the most recent NASA mission to Mars that touched down on the planet this month to look for signs of past life, will highlight the program lineup at the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium during March.

“Our March schedule at the planetarium is full of new and exciting programs,” says Max Gilbraith, the planetarium’s coordinator.

A new film and special live talk for audiences will be featured each week. The planetarium will be closed Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 13, for private events.

Seating is limited, so tickets will be by reservation only. To get tickets or receive more information about programs, email or leave a voicemail and a callback phone number at (307) 766-6506. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for students and those under 18. Cash or check is accepted at the door. The planetarium, which seats 58, is located in the basement of the Physical Sciences Building.

The March schedule is as follows:

-- “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesdays, March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 7 p.m. This program provides an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets and other celestial phenomena visible from Laramie for the season.

-- Full-dome movie: “Out There: Extrasolar Worlds,” Saturday, March 6, 2 p.m. For thousands of years, mankind thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. Thanks to man’s curiosity, imagination and urge to explore, it is now known that planets like Earth are nothing special in the cosmos. The sun is just one ordinary star among hundreds of billions in our galaxy, the Milky Way. With the world’s most powerful telescopes, viewers are able to explore more and more of the universe.

-- “Don’t Feed the Geysers: Yellowstone to Enceladus,” Friday, March 12, 7 p.m. The fierce geysers of Yellowstone National Park may seem like lifeless boiling cauldrons but actually harbor delicate ecosystems. Faraway worlds in the solar system also may harbor undiscovered and amazing secrets.

-- “You Are a Star,” Friday, March 19, 7 p.m. Take a journey through space and time from the Big Bang 14 billion light years ago to the present day. This program will track energy and matter from the first atoms, the stars that forged the elements inside us.

-- Full-dome movie: “Mayan Archaeoastronomy: Observers of the Universe,” Saturday, March 20, 2 p.m. This program intertwines science and mythology to take viewers on a poetic journey on how the Mayans have viewed and understood the universe throughout their history. The visuals are stunning, giving the viewer the impression of being inside a beautifully stylistic painting.

-- “Exploration of Mars: Viking to Perseverance,” Friday, March 26, 7 p.m. Perseverance, the most recent NASA mission to Mars, touched down this month. “Percy” is just the latest in a lineage of probes, landers, rovers and satellites sent to our red neighbor. However, the ultimate questions remain unanswered: “Did Mars once harbor life? Is it possible it still does now?”

-- Full-dome movie: “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter,” Saturday, March 27, 2 p.m. From the journey of protons racing through the world’s largest particle collider in Europe to up-close views of the Big Bang and emergent cosmos, this film is designed to immerse audiences in the search for dark matter. A collaboration of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; University of Texas-Arlington; Michigan State University; Instituto de Fisica Corpuscular at the University of Valencia in Valencia, Spain; as well as other institutions, this film is narrated by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton.

All programs are approximately an hour in length. As time allows, a portion of the show also may focus on a live sky tour or supporting information related to the film’s topic.

If you have a group larger than six, it is recommended to contact the planetarium for a private show, Gilbraith says. The rate for private shows is the same as ticket prices for public shows, he says.

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