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Spooky Side of Space Culminates October Planetarium Schedule

September 30, 2015
photo of the planet Jupiter and the stars behind it
This is a depiction of Jupiter's moon Io (pronounced "eye-oh"), the most active volcanic object in our solar system. The gas giant Jupiter can be spotted in the background. (UW Planetarium Photo)

No tricks, just astronomical treats. The Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium offers a look at the spooky side of space and a whole lot more during October.

“From autumn stargazing to science fiction, and on to understanding the vast magnitudes of space, we will be exploring everything that makes astronomy fun,” says Travis Laurance, the planetarium’s director. “Be sure to join us on select Saturdays for enjoyable shows and fun activities in discovering light and how volcanoes work. And, at the end of this month, we will celebrate ‘The Spooky Side of Space!’”

Friday night shows start at 7 p.m. during the fall, with a laser light show or a STAR Observatory tour scheduled to follow approximately an hour later. Kid-themed shows are scheduled Saturday mornings at 11.

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.-5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-noon. 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 October planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “This Month’s Sky,” Friday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m. Autumn is a good time to catch your favorite summer constellations before they disappear, and also your first chance to glimpse the winter versions. October also brings two meteor showers worth staying up to watch. A Daft Punk laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “Light, Camera, Space!” Saturday, Oct. 3, 11 a.m. Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars. Without the wonder of light, scientists wouldn’t know anything about space. The use of light allows scientists to make huge strides in technological advancements, discover the history of the universe and find out how the universe acts. Watch this show to discover how light works, how scientists use light and how light has increased our quality of life. After the show, attendees will have the chance to discover light for themselves; how it fits into the light spectrum; and even learn how to see what kinds of gases make up stars.

-- “Saturn: The Ringed Giant,” Friday, Oct, 9, 7 p.m. This Planet Series edition focuses on the gaseous ringed world Saturn. Saturn's intense storms, dozens of moons, thick rings and mysterious hexagon are just a few of the topics that will be explored.

-- “Science and Science Fiction,” Friday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m. Imagine stepping on to your own starship and blasting off from Earth, headed to another planet where humans have colonized hundreds of light years away. Normally, that would be an extremely long journey. But, attendees have a warp drive that allows them to travel faster than the speed of light. This sounds like science fiction, but is any of this actually possible? In this show, popular sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows and the science behind them will be discussed. A Best of U2 laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “The Volcanic Universe,” Saturday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m. Volcanoes are an awesome geologic force on Earth. But, did you know that other planets and even moons in our solar system are covered in volcanoes?  Some of them even shoot out water instead of melted rock. This program explores how volcanoes work on Earth and in our solar system, and how they shape the past and future.

 -- “Orders of Magnitude,” Friday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m. In honor of Mole Day, this show will focus on putting the scale of the universe in perspective. From the objects we interact with on Earth to the entirety of the visible universe, structures on every order of magnitude will be highlighted. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Comets and Asteroids,” Friday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. Are comets and asteroids bringers of life or of destruction? In the case of planet Earth, the answer is both. This program will take an in-depth look into the creation and behavior of these small cosmic bodies, and discover why studying something so small can forever change our understanding of the vast universe. A Michael Jackson laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “The Spooky Side of Space,” Saturday, Oct. 31, 11 a.m. There are lots of scary looking things and spooky stories about space, but science can be used to learn more about these objects and they will become a lot less scary. Kids are encouraged to come dressed in costume for this Halloween show and receive a special prize at the door.

For more information, go to and click on “Planetarium is Open!” on the left-side navigation bar, call (307) 766-6150, or email

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