Department: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Enjoy special events during Peterson Planetarium celebration

September 16, 2015

A week’s worth of special events and programs will formally introduce the public to the recently renovated Peterson Planetarium at Emporia State University. Activities begin on Monday, Sept. 21, and culminate on Family & Friends Day, Saturday, Sept. 26.

“All week, we’re going to have massive fun things to do in the planetarium because that’s our official grand re-opening,” said Dr. Susan Aber, director of the science and mathematics education center and planetarium director.  

The planetarium’s Spitz 512 star projector underwent a renovation in 2014, and a hemispherical mirror projection was added to span the planetarium dome with audio-video programming. A supplemental digital projector enables interaction through the Internet and through DVDs.

A generous contribution from the Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust in December added more video programming for children and youth.

The upgrades have expanded capabilities and heightened interest in the planetarium, which brings in audiences of all ages. Special programs can be arranged weekdays for K-12 schoolchildren, and live shows of the night sky and full-dome programs are held for the public the second Saturday of each month.

“We can schedule a show for your own group, or you can come to a regularly scheduled program,” Aber said.

Recent programs have featured Skylab, the first space station to orbit earth; Apollo-Soyuz mission, a cooperative venture in 1975 between America and the former U.S.S.R.; and New Horizons, which was launched in 2006 and passed by Pluto in July of this year.

“The fun thing about the Pluto program was that a lot of it was composed by Mark Brown,” said Dr. Susan Aber, planetarium director. Brown grew up in Emporia and volunteered as a Peterson Planetarium operator before serving in the military. He now lives in Pennsylvania producing photos for space documentaries.

The “Rediscover the Planetarium” grand re-opening schedule beginning on Monday, Sept. 21, includes:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (Sept. 21 and 23-25) — Laser Light shows every hour, 3 to 9 p.m. Tickets:  $3 each; ticket-holders receive half-price general admission adult tickets for the Family Day football game on Saturday between Emporia State and Northeastern State University. On Friday, there will be a reception for pat planetarium directors and student operators from 5 to 6 p.m. Because seating is limited to 38 people, call (620) 341-6378 for reserved tickets.
  • Tuesday (Sept. 22) —Ribbon-cutting ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m., followed by shows every half hour, 5:30 through 9 p.m., no admission charge thanks to Leadership Emporia Alumni’s sponsorship of events this night. Tours of Johnson Geology Museum and Schmidt Museum of Natural History will be available, and science activities will be held in the hallways. (Admission on Tuesday does NOT qualify for reduced-price tickets to football game.)
  • Saturday (Family & Friends Day) (Sept. 26) — “Corky’s Fantasy in the Sky,” a morning version of an evening under the stars, will introduce a special constellation — Corky the Hornet -—visible only over the Hornet Nation. Shows every half hour, 9 a.m. through noon; tickets $3 each, ticket-holders receive half-price general admission to 2 p.m. football game. Laser Light shows hourly from 6 through 9 p.m. Because seating is limited to 38 people, call (620) 341-6378 for reserved tickets.

The planetarium is in Room 031 of Cram Science Hall, adjacent to the Merchant Street parking lot.