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Couples Can Look to the Stars During February Planetarium Schedule

January 29, 2016
In celebration of Valentine's Day, this photo displays the classic winter stars as hearts. If you look closely, the constellations of Orion and Taurus are visible, as is the famous line of stars known as Orion's Belt. (UW Planetarium Photo)

Couples who have stars in their eyes for each other also can look up to the ceiling of the Harry C. Vaughan University of Wyoming Planetarium during February programs, including one titled “Love in the Solar System” that looks at the most romantic celestial bodies and systems in the universe.

“Planets, stars and galaxies: There are many things to explore in our universe,” says Samantha Ogden, the planetarium’s coordinator. “This February, we will answer the riddles of the universe and introduce audiences to the surprising wonders of our own solar system.”

Friday night shows start at 7 p.m. during the winter, with a laser light show or a STAR Observatory tour scheduled to follow about 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.

The February planetarium schedule is as follows:

-- “The Martian Frontier,” Friday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. This edition of the planet series focuses on Mars, our planetary next-door neighbor. Is it just a cold, dry desert? Could humans walk on the surface or even colonize it one day? This program will explore mankind’s interest in the red planet and the revitalized effort to land humans on its surface. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Love in the Solar System,” Friday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m. For centuries, the night sky has been observed by hopeless romantics. This show gets into the spirit of Valentine’s Day to discover the most romantic celestial bodies and systems in the universe as well as their classic love stories. A Michael Jackson laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “Water, Water Everywhere,” Saturday, Feb. 13, 11 a.m. More than two-thirds of Earth is covered in liquid water. Where did all that water come from, and does it exist elsewhere in our solar system? This show will explore the planets and moons in the solar system to find where liquid water could exist. Could extraterrestrial life exist on these objects as well? After the show, participants will experiment with water and discover its many amazing qualities that led to life on our planet.

-- “Dust, Light, Dust: The Stellar Life Cycle,” Friday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. Although stars aren't alive, they have extraordinary life cycles. Throughout their lives, they take many interesting and unique forms. Stars are born in clouds of gas, change as they fuse the elements of the periodic table, and eventually collapse in cataclysmic deaths. During this program, audiences will discover the science behind stellar formation and the various forms stars take throughout their life cycles. A STAR Observatory tour follows at 8 p.m.

-- “Galaxies: Island Universes,” Friday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. In 1920, two astronomers named Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis held a public debate on the size of the universe: Is the universe small or large? The work of Shapley and other astronomers, including Henrietta Leavitt and Edwin Hubble, provided conclusive evidence that the universe is, indeed, large and filled with billions of "island universes" or, as we know them today, galaxies. The Milky Way galaxy is just one of many. This program explores these island universes from their birth to their ultimate demise, and everything in between. A U2 laser light show follows at 8:10 p.m.

-- “Spaceships,” Saturday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m. How do we know so much about space? How did we learn everything we know about outer space and our solar system? The short answer is “spaceships.” Spaceships take us into the solar system to discover its wonders. This kid-friendly show provides a history of spaceships and the role they’ve played in answering our questions about everything related to outer space. After the show, audience members will have an opportunity to design and build their own model spaceships.





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