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UW Planetarium to Celebrate Summer Solstice with Programs June 19

May 26, 2021
stylized graphic of people watching lava lake with a large planet in the sky
Lava lakes, as depicted in this Loki Patera Planetary Park poster, will be discussed during a UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium show, titled “Solar System Vacation,” Friday, June 4, at 7 p.m. (UW Planetarium Photo)

The longest day of the year -- June 20 -- better known as the summer solstice, will be celebrated by the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium with two free programs scheduled the day before.

“If you’ve never been, and aren’t sure what we are about, come to one of our free programs June 19 to celebrate the summer solstice in the planetarium and with the solar-filtered telescope on the STAR Observatory rooftop,” says Max Gilbraith, the planetarium’s coordinator. “As campus safety protocols ease, we are able to open additional seats to guests. So, while reservations are recommended, they are no longer necessary.”

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

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. Cash or check is accepted at the door. The planetarium, which seats 58, is located in the basement of the Physical Sciences Building.

The June schedule is as follows:

-- “Solar System Vacation,” Friday, June 4, 7 p.m. This program will have visitors tour 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: “Dark Matter Mystery,” Saturday, June 5, 2 p.m. This show takes visitors on the biggest quest of contemporary astrophysics. See why dark matter exists, and how this search is one of the most challenging and exciting science has to offer.

-- “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesdays, June 8 and 22, 7 p.m. This program provides an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets and other celestial phenomena visible from Laramie for the season.

-- “Navigating the Stars,” Friday, June 11, 7 p.m. This show will examine some of the ways people have used the stars and how those ways came to be. Learn how the stars can tell us the time, our location on Earth and even our place in the universe.

-- Full-dome movie: “From Earth to the Universe,” Saturday, June 12, 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. Learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes.

-- “Extreme Explorers,” Friday, June 18, 7 p.m. Humans can’t survive most environments on Earth without purpose-built clothing, shelter, and advanced food and water infrastructure. What about space? Probes, landers, rovers and other craft require incredible engineering to survive the extreme radiation, heat, cold, weather, chemistry and climates of deep space. Learn what it takes for robots and maybe people to endure in these places.

-- “Solstice Celebration,” Saturday, June 19, 11 a.m. and noon. What are the reasons for the seasons? Explore the motions of Earth, the sun, moon and other planets. Learn how our ancestors marked and kept time. These shows about the summer solstice are free.

-- Full-dome movie: “Europe to the Stars,” Saturday, June 19, 2 p.m. This film takes the viewer on an epic journey behind the scenes at the world’s most productive ground-based observatory -- the European Southern Observatory -- revealing the science, history, technology and the people.

-- “Science of Sci-Fi,” Friday, June 25, 7 p.m. This program looks at some popular films, TV shows and media to discuss what creators got right and wrong on the hard science. Visitors will see everything from funny physics faux pas to groundbreaking visuals that advance the body of scientific knowledge.

-- Full-dome movie: “Dawn of the Space Age,” Saturday, June 26, 2 p.m. From the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights, the audience will be immersed and overwhelmed with this most accurate historic reconstruction of man’s first steps into space.

All programs are about 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.

If you have a group larger than six, it is recommended to contact the planetarium for a private show at, Gilbraith says. The rate for private shows is the same as ticket prices for public shows, he says.

“If you’re running a summer camp or other group activity, contact us ASAP to ensure your field trip, birthday party, get-together or other private event can fit on the schedule,” he says.

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