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Physics and Astronomy WSU 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) to arrange.

2021 Summer/Fall
$5 public shows

Hygiene rules: limited seating capacity, masks please. 

Aug 6/8. Kids: Larry Cat.  Main: Cosmic Colors

Aug 13/15. Kids: Lars Polar Bear. Main: Destination Solar System

Aug 20/22. Kids: Molecularium. Main: Moons – Worlds of Mystery

Aug 27/29. Kids: Mole – What is out there? Main: Musica

August 2021 shows

Tickets at the door are $5 (cash or check, no credit). Lap-sitting children (4 and under) are free with adult purchase. Until further notice, we request that attendees wear a mask. We will be limiting seating to a fraction of capacity, and will be sanitizing between shows.  Scroll down for detailed directions to the WSU Planetarium, 231 Sloan Hall.

Larry Cat in Space and Cosmic Colors


Friday, Aug 6.  5:00 p.m. Larry Cat + 5:45 p.m. overflow show.  7:00 p.m. Cosmic Colors. 7:50 p.m. overflow show

Sunday, Aug 8.  3:30 p.m. Larry Cat + 4:15 p.m. overflow show.  5:00 p.m. Cosmic Colors. 5:50 p.m. overflow show


Larry Cat in Space.

Larry stows away in his owner’s suitcase. Little does he know that his owner is on her way to the moon!

Cosmic Colors.

Take a wondrous journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum! Discover the many reasons for color — like why the sky is blue and why Mars is red. Take a tour within a plant leaf and journey inside the human eye. Investigate x-rays by voyaging to a monstrous black hole and then back at your doctor’s office. And see the actual color of dinosaur skin, as reconstructed by science.

Lars the Little Polar Bear and Destination Solar System


Friday, Aug 13.  5:00 p.m. Lars + 5:45 p.m. overflow show.  7:00 p.m. Destination Solar System. 7:50 p.m. overflow show

Sunday, Aug 15.  3:30 p.m. Lars + 4:15 p.m. overflow show.  5:00 p.m. Destination Solar System. 5:50 p.m. overflow show


Lars, the Little Polar Bear.

Explore the changing Arctic landscape with a curious little polar bear.

Destination Solar System.

The year is 2096. Space tourism is thriving and “Space Express Tours” is the world’s leading company in space. You’ve signed up for a quick trip around the Solar System.

Molecularium and Moons: Worlds of Mystery


Friday, Aug 20.  5:00 p.m. Molecularium + 5:45 p.m. overflow show.  7:00 p.m. Moons: Worlds of Mystery. 7:50 p.m. overflow show

Sunday, Aug 22.  3:30 p.m. Molecularium + 4:15 p.m. overflow show.  5:00 p.m. Moons: Worlds of Mystery. 5:50 p.m. overflow show


Molecularium: A magical musical adventure into the world of molecules

Everything is made of atoms.

Moons: Worlds of Mystery

Take a fascinating trip to the little worlds of our solar system – its many moons.

Sol: Our Amazing Sun


Friday, Aug 27.  5:00 p.m. Mole + 5:45 p.m. overflow show.  7:00 p.m. Musica. 7:50 p.m. overflow show

Sunday, Aug 29.  3:30 p.m. Mole + 4:15 p.m. overflow show.  5:00 p.m. Musica. 5:50 p.m. overflow show


Moles: What is Out There?

A mole’s eye view of astronomy. You have never seen a cuter mole.

Musica: A View of the Universe through Music and Mathematics.

The show begins with a young woman, mesmerized by the beauty of nature, who asks, “Why do I sense beauty?” Her question sets in motion a series of scenes that take audiences on a voyage of discovery—from the DNA in our cells, to the spiral designs hidden in a sunflower and the ominous beauty of a typhoon, to the spiral grandeur of galaxies.

Her guide to the cosmos is a quiet pianist who introduces himself as “Musica” and uses sound and the concepts of harmony and harmonics to show her how math and physics unite music and nature. Thus begins a timeless conversation. Every question she asks allows Musica to show the physics and math equations behind something as simple as the placement of leaves on a sunflower stalk to the arrangement of stars in a galaxy. The more she asks, the more Musica can tell her about the cosmos, until she asks a question that surprises even him.

“Musica? Why is the universe beautiful?”

Created by Hiromitsu Kohsaka, producer of the highly acclaimed fulldome show Hayabusa: Back to the Earth.

Not yet scheduled:

Venus Ascendant

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

to be scheduled.

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

to be scheduled.

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

to be scheduled.

“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

Distant Worlds – Alien Life?

to be scheduled.

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

to be scheduled.

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 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 (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.


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)