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New Programs Highlight UW Planetarium Schedule in the New Year

December 22, 2021
stones arranged in a wheel shape on a hill
The Bighorn Medicine Wheel near Lovell is one of the largest of many similar ancient structures across the western plains of America. Its cairns, spokes and alignment allow for precise measurement of celestial activity. The University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will host an “Indigenous Astronomies of the American West” program at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14. (UW Planetarium Photo)

To start the new year, visitors to the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will be exposed to new programs that will allow them to take a solar system vacation; discover the star knowledge of Indigenous peoples of the West; receive an update on the Parker Solar Probe’s mission; and learn about the planned journey of Artemis I to the moon in the spring.

“The new year is used for us to make goals, better ourselves and discover new things. We hope to do all of that with our audiences with our planetarium programs in January,” says Max Gilbraith, the planetarium’s coordinator. “With the football schedule ending, expect regular Saturday afternoon programming to return with our rotating film schedule. On Friday nights, we will have our live presentations on new and familiar topics in astronomy.”

Gilbraith adds the second and last Tuesday evenings of January will be set aside for the “Wyoming Skies” program so that attendees can see the change of the constellations, movement of the planets and other topical celestial activity. Depending on the weather, the planetarium will host a public observing night sometime in late January.

To get tickets or receive more information about programs, email or leave a voicemail and a call-back phone number at (307) 766-6506. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for students, senior citizens, veterans, first responders and those under 18. Seating is free for children under 5.

Reservations or pre-purchase is not required, and walk-ins are welcome. Tickets can be purchased online with a credit card, reserved by email or voicemail, or purchased at the start of the show. Cash or check is accepted at the door. The planetarium, which seats 58, is in the basement of the Physical Sciences Building. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis outside of designated ADA/wheelchair seating.

To pay for tickets with a credit card, go to For a group larger than six, email the planetarium for a private show at Tickets for private shows are the same as the public programs.

A film and special live talk for audiences will be featured each week. 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.

The January schedule is:

-- “Solar System Vacation,” Friday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m. This program will provide a tour of the most exciting and relaxing locations around the solar system. See giant ice geysers, lava lakes and aurorae; or watch the sunset on methane lakes on the bizarre moons and planets of the sun.

-- Full-dome movie: “From Earth to the Universe,” Saturday, Jan. 8, 2 p.m. The night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe for as long as there have been people. This journey of celestial discovery explores the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes.

-- “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m. The program provides an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena visible from Wyoming for the season.

-- “Indigenous Astronomies of the American West,” Friday, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. Visitors can discover the star knowledge of the West from ancient medicine wheels, petroglyphs and oral stories from elders.

-- Full-dome movie: “Mexican Archaeoastronomy: Between Space and Time,” Saturday, Jan. 15, 2 p.m. This program illustrates the important role played by astronomical observation for the evolution of pre-Hispanic cultures in central Mexico.

-- “Parker Solar Probe Update,” Friday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its 10th close approach to the sun Nov. 21, coming within 5.3 million miles of the solar surface. The spacecraft will transmit science data from the encounter from Dec. 23-Jan. 9. The data will cover the properties and structure of the solar wind as well as the dust environment near the sun.

-- Full-dome movie: “The Sun: Our Living Star,” Saturday, Jan. 22, 2 p.m. The sun consumes 600 million tons of hydrogen each second and is 500 times as massive as all of the planets combined. Viewers will discover the secrets of the sun and experience never-before-seen images of its violent surface in immersive full-dome format.

-- “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesday, Jan. 25, 7 p.m. The program provides an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena visible from Wyoming for the season.

-- “Apollo to Artemis: Humans to the Moon,” Friday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m. Visitors can see the history of lunar exploration and learn about the newest efforts to get humanity back to the moon. Artemis I is preparing for a launch date in the spring. The Orion spacecraft, without a crew, will embark on a 25-day journey to the moon and back.

-- Full-dome movie: “Dawn of the Space Age,” Saturday, Jan. 29, 2 p.m. From the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights, viewers will be immersed with this accurate historic reconstruction of man’s first steps into space.

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