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‘Star of the Magi’ Program Highlights UW Planetarium Schedule in December

December 1, 2021

A program that explores the star of Bethlehem will take center stage at the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium this month.

“For our December programs, we’ll be going on a tour of the icy worlds of the solar system; learning about the possible astronomical explanation surrounding the star of Bethlehem; and exploring the dancing lights of auroras of the poles of planets,” says Max Gilbraith, the planetarium’s coordinator. “Our featured event will be Dr. Chip Kobulnicky’s returning program ‘Star of the Magi,’ which will run Dec. 10-11. As a free event for December, we hope to be watching the James Webb Space Telescope launch Dec. 18 in the afternoon.”

The planetarium will be closed for the winter break Dec. 20-27.

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 December schedule is:

-- “It’s Ice: Frozen Worlds,” Friday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. The poles of Earth may contain frozen water, but they are hardly the only places. Farther from the sun, it gets chillier still with carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen and nitrogen freezing as we get to Mars; the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; and, finally, the minor planet Pluto. As the temperature drops in Wyoming, visitors will learn how much colder it gets in other places to feel warm.

-- Full-dome movie: “Dawn of the Space Age,” Saturday, Dec. 4, 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.

-- “Star of the Magi,” Friday, Dec. 10, 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Learn about the heavens, wonder and speculate with Kobulnicky, an astronomer and a UW professor of physics and astronomy, as he presents some of the celestial possibilities that may underlie the storied “star that rose in the East” that led the magi to the birthplace of Jesus.

-- “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesday, Dec. 14, 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.

-- “Aurorae: Dancing Lights,” Friday, Dec. 17, 7 p.m. For millennia, our ancestors looked in awe at the “dawn in the North,” better known as the Aurora Borealis. What causes this display in the sky? Where does it occur? Do other planets have aurorae? Take a tour from the surface of the sun out to the magnetic poles of the solar system to find out.

-- Full-dome movie: “James Webb Space Telescope Launch Watch Party,” Saturday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. Hang out with planetarium staff and watch the launch of the largest-ever space telescope on the big screen at the planetarium.

poster for the Star of the Magi program
The University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will be open for public shows during December. “Star of the Magi” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11. (UW Planetarium Photo)


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