UW Planetarium Steps Up Programming in March

sprays erupting from curved moon horizon

Geysers of water ice erupt from the south pole of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. Scientists speculate this moon and others like it may harbor life. (UW Planetarium Photo)

The search for extraterrestrial life; a discussion of Carl Sagan’s book “Contact” by a University of Wyoming professor; and a look at geysers at Yellowstone National Park, as well as on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, are some of the programs scheduled at UW’s Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium this month.

After what he terms an “exciting February,” Max Gilbraith, the planetarium coordinator, says programming at the planetarium will be stepped up in March.

“Beginning the first weekend of March, there will be live science shows three times a week — on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. In addition, we’ll be offering family-oriented programming Saturday afternoons,” Gilbraith says. “Be aware we’ll be offering limited public shows during spring break but are open for rentals, birthdays and private shows throughout the month. All of our talented presenters will have unique shows this month, so you can come every weekend and see something totally different. We also are excited to offer a free screening of ‘Contact,’ hosted by Dr. Chip Kobulnicky, Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m.”

Friday night shows start at 8 p.m. Saturday’s schedule has moved from kid-themed planetarium shows in the morning to 2 p.m. family double features of full-dome movies and/or 8 p.m. programs or music visualization shows. The month also includes three Tuesday night shows that begin at 7 p.m. and one Thursday night program that also starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for nonstudents. Tickets 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.-4 p.m. Tickets also can be purchased by going online at www.uwyo.edu/physics/planetarium and clicking on “Purchase tickets online with a credit card.” Doors open 20 minutes before the show, where tickets will be sold if available. The planetarium, which seats 58, is located in the basement of the Physical Sciences Building.

The March planetarium schedule is as follows:

— “Family Double Feature (full-dome movies),” Saturday, March 7, 2 p.m. “Seeing!” and “From Earth to the Universe” will be shown.

— “The Search for Extraterrestrial Life,” Saturday, March 7, 8 p.m. With few exceptions, the majority of science fiction that is set in space has some kind of alien life involved. Yet, so far, we have not found any signs of E.T. Could intelligent life exist? Would they be able to contact us? Tour our solar system and beyond in search of extraterrestrial life.

— “Our Wyoming Sky,” Tuesday, March 10, 7 p.m. Learn the stories of the constellations, their asterisms, the planets and what hidden objects can be found in the night sky with binoculars and home telescopes. Objects include the Pleiades star cluster, the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Orion Nebula stellar nursery, the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, the Whirlpool Galaxy and binary stars.

— “Constellations Across Cultures,” Friday, March 13, 8 p.m. Just as each of us interprets shapes in clouds differently, the stars have served as a canvas for the diverse peoples of the world to embed their cultural, historical and mythological knowledge. The modern 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union paint over thousands of years of shared written and oral traditions. In learning the contrasting interpretations of the sky, visitors will discover the shared experience of stargazing and storytelling is a universal thread across cultures and generations.

— “Family Double Feature (full-dome movies),” Saturday, March 14, 2 p.m. “Max Goes to the Moon” and “The Sun, Our Living Star” will be shown.

— “Liquid Sky: EDM,” Saturday, March 14, 8 p.m. Enjoy a brand-new playlist of classic and contemporary pop hits set to the psychedelic visuals of MilkDrop and deep space journey rendered live on the 4k, 60fps dome. Featured artists include DeadMau5 and Daft Punk.

— “Our Wyoming Sky,” Tuesday, March 24, 7 p.m. In this in-depth tour of the night sky, learn the stories of the constellations, their asterisms, the planets and what hidden objects can be found in the night sky with binoculars and home telescopes. Objects include the Pleiades star cluster, the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Orion Nebula stellar nursery, the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, the Whirlpool Galaxy and binary stars.

— Sci Fi with a Scientist: “Contact” with Kobulnicky, Thursday, March 26, 7 p.m. Enjoy the celebrated and controversial adaptation of Carl Sagan’s hard science fiction hit “Contact” and then get the science facts with Kobulnicky, a UW professor of physics and astronomy. Kobulnicky is an observational astronomer who uses ground-based and space-based telescopes at radio, infrared, optical and X-ray wavelengths to study stars, star formation, the chemical composition of interstellar material and the evolution of galaxies.

— “The Powers of Zero,” Friday, March 27, 8 p.m. Zero is a seemingly innocuous and unobtrusive number. However, when added before or after any set of digits, zero becomes world-changing. By giving us the orders of magnitude, zeroes are the numerical lens through which astrophysicists see the world. This program will explore the universe one order of magnitude at a time, from the smallest of the small, to the entire universe as a whole.

— “Family Double Feature (full-dome movies),” Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m. “Two Small Pieces of Glass” and “Dawn of the Space Age” will be shown.

— “Don’t Feed the Geysers: Yellowstone to Enceladus,” Saturday, March 28, 8 p.m. Beginning with the majesty of Yellowstone, visitors will learn about the delicate balance of modern conservation and discovery before journeying outward to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Visitors also will learn why NASA and other space agencies are doing their best to conserve these distant alien treasures that could harbor extraterrestrial life.

— “Our Wyoming Sky,” Tuesday, March 31, 7 p.m. In this in-depth tour of the night sky, learn the stories of the constellations, their asterisms, the planets and what hidden objects can be found in the night sky with binoculars and home telescopes. Objects include the Pleiades star cluster, the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Orion Nebula stellar nursery, the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, the Whirlpool Galaxy and binary stars.

For more detailed descriptions of these programs, go to www.uwyo.edu/physics/planetarium/schedule.html.

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