Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Physics and Astronomy WSU Planetarium

Planetarium

WSU Planetarium

The WSU Planetarium features a digital fulldome projection system. During a sky tour, audiences interact with the projected sky and the docent to learn about astronomy. The dome is a 24 foot diameter plastic-laminated glass-fiber dome installed in Sloan Hall in March, 1962. In 1968 the projector was upgraded to the Spitz A3-P. In 2014, an interim spheric mirror digital projection system was added, upgraded to 4k resolution in summer 2016. It is used for WSU astronomy classes, school groups, other groups, and evening public shows. If you have a group of twelve or more, you can arrange a free, one-hour sky tour during business hours. Contact Dr. Guy Worthey at gworthey(at)wsu.edu to arrange.

2020 Fall
$5 public shows


Schedule in preparation

Spring 2020 Schedule

Tickets at the door are $5 (cash or check, no credit). Children 6 and under free. Scroll down for detailed directions to the WSU Planetarium, 231 Sloan Hall.

SENTIENT

Friday, January 10, 7:00 p.m.  and  Sunday, January 12, 5:00 p.m.

During the Spring semester of 2013 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, students explored the topic of consciousness. In less than 5 months these students collaborated on all aspects of storytelling, concept development, sound design, and fulldome production to create an immersive experience which explores the creative, perceptive, and unexplored mind. This is a planetarium show like you’ve never seen before.

  • The creative mind.
  • The perceptive mind.
  • The unexplored mind.

This 35 minute movielike presentation is preceded by an introduction and followed by an open-ended discussion. It contains strobe-like lighting effects and may not be suitable for people sensitive to sudden flashes. This presentation is not suited for small children due to abstract intellectual content and unsettling music.

DARK MATTER – The Space Between the Stars

Friday, January 24, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 26, 5:00 p.m.

A short talk about the history and hunt for this elusive substance followed by the movie “Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter.”

Some 80% of the mass of the universe is made up of a material that scientists cannot directly observe. Known as dark matter, this bizarre ingredient does not emit light or energy. So what exactly is it? Come find out what we know and don’t know.

Love You to the Moon and Back

Friday, February 14: Two shows:  6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

A special Valentine’s Day themed show. We will explore all things romantic within the heavens such as mythological stories of love, as well as some of the hottest things in the known universe.

Sol: Our Amazing Sun

Friday, February 21, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 23, 5:00 p.m.

This time of year we all need our Vitamin D. Come get your dose at the WSU planetarium with a show entirely dedicated to our Sun (Sol), including a talk followed by the half hour fulldome movie entitled, “Sunstruck”. Travel back to the beginning of time and experience the birth of the Sun. Discover how it came to support life, how it threatens life as we know it, and how its energy will one day fade away.

Venus Ascendant

Venus, with the (brighter) moon and, down to the left, comet PANNSTARRS. [Image credit Amit Kamble (Auckland Astronomical Society)]

Friday, March 6, 7 p.m., and Sunday March 8, 5 p.m.

2020 is a spectacular year for viewing earth’s twin, the gemlike Venus.

Bright in the evening sky all winter, Venus peaks in with its greatest elongation March 24. Venus crosses the sun in late May/June, then pops into the morning sky. Greatest Western elongation is Aug 13, and it stays bright in the morning sky from late summer to the end of the year.

But Venus is more than just a pretty sight. We’ll also review its exploration history, its atmosphere, and its geology.

To Boldly Go: The Science Behind Star Trek

POSTPONED.

Logical, yet wild, conjecture has both dangers and opportunities. We’ll step through
some of the props and plot devices from the storied Star Trek franchise, which debuted
in the late 1960’s. Are warp drives possible? Transporter beams? Dilithium? Vulcans? We
shall reveal all.

Welcome aboard!

The Hot and Energetic Universe

POSTPONED.

“High energy astrophysics” means powerful photons and energetic particles from some of the most extreme cosmic objects. For example, it probes hot gas in clusters of galaxies, the most massive objects in the universe. It also probes hot gas accreting around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. High energy radiation provides important information about objects in our own galaxy: neutron stars, supernova remnants, and stars like our Sun.  

This spectacular fulldome immersive video was produced by “Integrated Activities in the High-Energy Astrophysics Domain” (AHEAD) in the European Union. 

Dragonfly mission to Titan

Saturday, April 18, 5:00 p.m. — Postponed

One show only! $10 admission

In 2025 we will be launching NASA’s newly selected drone-like rotorcraft/lander named Dragonfly to Saturn’s most Earth-like Moon, Titan. One of the founding members of this project just so happens to be U of I’s own associate professor, Dr. Jason Barnes. Dr. Barnes will be joining us at the planetarium to talk about this most epic mission and soon to be piece of space history. Please join us, this is certainly not a talk to be missed out on! Q & A session to follow afterwards. (~90 minutes)

This one-time show is $10 admission. Tickets can be reserved in advance at 335-9532 or by emailing physics@wsu.edu.

Distant Worlds – Alien Life?

Friday, December 6, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 8, 5:00 p.m.

The possibility of life out there excites our imagination. Join us in experiencing an immersive fulldome movie produced by six German planetaria. It explores the current state of astrobiology and the conditions for life as we know it, then goes on to explore the solar system and selected exoplanetary systems around distant stars. It speculates on how aliens might be constructed to survive in environments very different from earth. It concludes with the possibilities for contact with Galactic civilizations other than our own, and what that might mean for society.

Cassini’s Grand Finale

Friday, December 13, 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 15, 5:00 p.m.

Mighty, spectacular Saturn captures the imagination like no other planet. NASA’s Cassini mission exploded our knowledge of this enigmatic giant, its moons, and its amazing rings. Cassini’s piggyback probe Huygens parachuted to the large moon Titan and sent back images of this atmosphere-cloaked world. This planetarium presentation is an ode to the planet, and to the engineering marvels that allowed us a deeper glimpse of its wonders.

Directions

Directions from Stadium & Main: Turn up Stadium, immediate left at Nevada, immediate left at Washington, turn right on Spokane Street. Street spots and nearby parking lots are legal to park in after-hours. Otherwise, please arrange a temporary permit from parking.wsu.edu (the zone you want is called “green 3.”) The pedestrian bridge is the most convenient entry; come across the bridge, come in the building, then turn right. Twenty paces later, turn left and head down the hall to Sloan 231.

from_StadiumMain

We are gratified that our series of informative and entertaining shows for the general public, inaugurated in Spring, 2014, have proven very popular. In Summer, 2014, we installed a spheric-mirror digital projection system to operate alongside the legacy Spitz star ball to enable a whole new layer of flexibility in the star theater. A system upgrade quadrupled its resolution in 2016. Our dome was painted a friendly gray color in 2019 to reduce light echoes and improve contrast.

Funds from ticket sales maintain and improve our surround sound and full dome visual systems, and guarantee an offering of even more spectacular public events in the future. The WSU Foundation will be happy to assist you if you wish to accelerate the upgrades with a financial gift (donate to “astronomy development fund”).

Our offerings:

  • Day time groups ($0)
  • Evening public shows ($5)
  • Corporate facility rental (inquire, 335-4994)