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November Planetarium Schedule Heats Up with Variety During Chilly November

October 29, 2015
moon's surface with stars in background
This image is a panoramic view of the moon’s surface. The moon will be discussed as part of the full-dome movie, titled “Two Small Pieces of Glass,” that will be shown in the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium Nov. 21. (UW Planetarium Photo)

Learn more about a few planets, look to the sky to spot a comet, view a movie about telescopes and celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity during November at the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium.

“November at the planetarium celebrates the wonders of our galaxy and the inventions that helped us discover them,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “It may be chilly in Wyoming's later months, but the Harry C. Vaughan planetarium offers our audience a warm, comfortable place to start discovering the solar system and beyond. Then, be sure to bundle up as we head to the STAR Observatory on select nights to see these celestial wonders firsthand.”

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 Saturdays at 11 a.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.-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.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the planetarium will not hold public shows the last week of November. Regular Friday shows resume Dec. 4 and Saturday morning shows Dec. 5. 

The November planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “This Month’s Sky: A Comet’s Tale,” Friday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m. With the approach of winter solstice, the nights continue to get longer. It’s the perfect time of year to bundle up and head into the long night to see the wonders of our solar system. November brings two different meteor showers, bright and distinct constellations, and even four of the five visible planets before the sun rises. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, there will be something amazing to see this month. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Exoplanets,” Saturday, Nov. 7, 11 a.m. Do planets exist beyond the solar system? And, if they do, is the Earth truly one of a kind? In mankind’s search to answer these questions, research has extended beyond the solar system to find planets that orbit other stars: exoplanets. This show will help you discover these exotic, foreign worlds and the methods astronomers use to discover them. After the show, use what you have learned and your own creativity to build your own exoplanet.

-- “Mercury and Venus: The Inner Planets,” Friday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Mercury and Venus are the two planets before Earth in the solar system. These enigmatic worlds possess climates completely unlike anything on our planet. This program explores the barren and bizarre terrain of Mercury as well as the harsh climate of Venus, which rendered a series of Soviet scientific probes useless nearly instantly. A Laser Gaga light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “100 Years of General Relativity,” Friday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m. In 1915, Albert Einstein published a paper, titled "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity," which flipped the current understanding of the universe upside down and helped kick-start a new era of modern physics. Now, 100 years later, scientists have used Einstein's theory of general relativity to uncover the secrets of the universe and push the boundaries of the laws of physics. This program explores Einstein's universe where black holes, wormholes, time travel and more are made possible. A reception to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of general relativity will be held in the atrium of the planetarium at 6 p.m. prior to the show. The Society of Physics Students will host the reception. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Full-Dome Movie: Two Small Pieces of Glass,” Saturday, Nov. 21, 11 a.m. There was one simple invention -- the telescope -- made in the 17th century that allowed astronomers to see the cosmos like never before. In the centuries since this discovery, astronomers have been able to unlock the mysteries -- from our own moon to the most distant galaxies of the universe -- of the cosmos using telescopes. And it all started with just two small pieces of glass. Explore the cosmos and learn the history and science of telescopes with the full-dome movie “Two Small Pieces of Glass.” After the show, patrons are invited to stay and build their own telescope. The activity is free.

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