Peterson Planetarium public showings 2nd Saturday every month
Spend an hour at Peterson Planetarium
Attend our ongoing History of U.S. Manned Space Exploration!
Attend our ongoing History of U.S. Manned Space Exploration!
Comet Lovejoy over Carlisle, Pennsylvania - image by Mark Brown

Welcome to Science and Math Education Center &
The Peterson Planetarium!

What's New?

About the Scrolling Images and more astronomy events

About the Planetarium

Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust Award

Peterson Planetarium is an educational outreach branch of the Science and Math Education Center. The planetarium is a teaching facility for campus classes in space science and other courses that schedule sessions in this unique audiovisual theater. It seats 38 under a 24-foot dome, which serves as a projection screen. We have the Spitz 512 star projector that was installed in 1996 and renovated in 2014. To this supplement Earth-bound perspective of the night sky, a hemispherical mirror projection was added in 2014 to provide full dome audiovideo programming. A supplemental digital projector allows for interaction via the Internet or displays shows via DVDs.

Live shows of the night sky and full-dome programs with themes in astronomy, Earth science, biology, history, and mathematics are presented to the public on the second Saturday of the month.  A historical series will be presented on U.S. manned space exploration for the public on Thursday evenings, from January 29 until June 13.  Scheduling presentations for campus students and K-12 schoolchildren can be on weekdays. 
We just hosted some 300 6th graders for Earth Moon & Sun... Losing the Dark. Comments from teachers included...
...perfect match to our 6th grade curriculum
...the light pollution short show connected with our students
Contact us to book your K-12 class room to reinforce science standards in space science, earth science, biology and mathematics! 
The planetarium is located in room 031, Science Hall, on the west side of the Emporia State University campus. Entrance is from Merchant Street parking or with school buses, use Kellogg Circle stopping just beyond Plumb Hall. Upcoming program information and events in Peterson Planetarium are found at or   Remember that seating is limited and to guarantee entrance to the shows, call 620-341-5636 for reservations.

What's new?

  • Peterson Planetarium has received a generous award from the Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust for video programming for children and youth. Read more about it below.
  • Come to the planetarium Thursday, February 26 and March 5, 12, 19, 26 at 6:30-7:45 pm for our NASA historical series on U.S. manned space exploration. The series will be every Thursday from January 29 through June 11. The planetarium is located in Science Hall, room 031. This event is free, but seating is limited. Call 620-341-5636 each week for a reservation.
  • Come to the planetarium for Saturday public showings beginnning at 10:00 and 11:00 am... the second Saturday every month - February 14, March 14, Apri 11, May 9, and June 13.  The planetarium is located in Science Hall, room 031. These show times are free, but seating is limited. Call 620-341-5636 each week for a reservation.
  • Peterson Planetarium provides ESU students with employment opportunities to work on live show production and video presentations.  Now hiring ESU students - if interested, contact Dr. Aber at 620-341-5636 with a resume of experience and letter of interest.
  • THIS WEEK - Project Mercury was a NASA program where astronauts made 6 flights, with 4 going into orbit to circle Earth. The capsule was compact and held 1 astronaut.  It was launched with Redstone and Atlas rockets, with 7 astronauts, 1 rhesus monkey, and 2 chimpanzees involved in these Mercury Seven missions.
    Grade 5-8 students may want to visit -
    Grades K-4 students may want to visit -
    Other links of interest...


About our planetarium....

Peterson Planetarium has provided quality programming since 1959 for Emporia State University and the greater Emporia/Lyon County community. The Peterson Planetarium is administered through the Departments of Physical Sciences with funds provided by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Programming at the Peterson Planetarium serves a variety of community and University audiences.  School-age children from the Emporia area and surrounding counties represent the largest group of off-campus patrons of planetarium programming.

About the Scrolling Images and more...

Mark Brown is an award winning night sky photographer who provides Peterson Planetarium with technical support and show scripts for live shows and images illustrating phenomena to view in space.  He lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania that is a city in the south central part of the state, sandwiched between Interstates 76 and 81. We are featuring his photography with...
  • International Space Station Pass - SPOT THE STATION! Sign up to receive notices about when you might see the International Space Station (ISS) streak across the night sky -

    The alerts will give you the day, time, and path of ISS, so you can watch for 1-4 minutes of this phenomenal orbiting manned space science mobile home!
  • Twilight Conjunction - a.k.a. the triple play! This tight grouping of Earth's Moon and planets, Venus and Mars, is a relatively rare astronomical event for us to see.  All three objects are at vastly different distance from Earth and all move across the sky at different rates... yet for several days, if cloud free, these three occur in proximity. This New Moon or waxing crescent moon, Mars, and Venus also mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year...the year of the Goat!
  • Comet Lovejoy - This event has been and continues to be visible high in the night sky with binoculars or telescope, depending on your Earthly location... and in Mark's case, he viewed this comet through the lens of his camera!  Comet Lovejoy was third magnitude at its peak brightness and now fading, as it continues toward Andromeda -see the 2015 Sky and Telescope magazine for the current path of Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, at 

    This was Terry Lovejoy's 5th comet discovery since 2007 and found August 17, 2014.  It seems we will not see it return for Earth viewing for another 8,000 years!  Comets are debris left from the solar system formation and referred to as elusive wanderers and in this case, visible to us with both head and tail.
    For more images and information...
--Star Date from the UT Austin McDonald Observatory -
-- NASA JPL - January 12, 2015
--Astronomy Picture of the Day, January 17, 2015,
--Astronomy Picture of the Day, January 21, 2015,
--Astronomy Picture of the Day, January 28, 2015,
--EarthSky - -
Coming soon to Peterson Planetarium ... Journey to Pluto! 85 years after Pluto was discovered, New Horizon spacecraft is traveling some 6 billion kilometers... 4 billion miles and experience its first flyby of Pluto July 14, 2015.  The plan is for scientific investigation of dwarf planets, moons, Kuiper belt objects in the Pluto system and we are working on the planetarium presentation.  Until then,  read more about it see:
On March 6, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is set to arrive at the dwarf planet, Ceres!  Originally, Ceres was thought to be the largest asteroid in the Kuiper Belt, which is an area confined between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are rocky debris from the formation of our solar system, whereas dwarf planets are defined as ...a celestial body orbiting a star that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity but has not cleared its neighboring region of planetismals and is not a satellite. More explicitily, it has to have sufficient mass to overcome its compressive strength and acheive hydrostatic equilibrium (International Astronomical Union, 2006).
Astronomers are anxious to see if Ceres has an ocean... or cryovolcanism from geysers or icy volcanoes... and if there is water vapor, does Ceres host microbial life?!
See NASA Dawn Mission Facebook!
2015 is the Year of the Dwarves or as Dr. Schenk puts it.... Ceres and Pluto Get Their Due! For more, see
Ceres craters were featured in the Astronomy Picture of the Day, 18 February 2015

Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust Award!

The Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust made a generous contribution to the Peterson Planetarium for children’s video programming in December 2014.  This Trust was established by Loretto A. Langley, a secondary education teacher from Lyon County, Kansas.  Miss Langley taught for 40 years and retired in 1966.  She began her career at Lowther Junior High School and ending at Emporia High School where she taught business classes.
She served on the Olpe State Bank board of directors for over 25 years.  She was a member of many organizations and professional groups including; Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary professional teachers’ organization, the American organization, the American Association of University Women, the Business and Professional Women’s Club in Emporia, and the Retired Teachers Association. Miss Langley was a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Sacred Heart Altar Society.
Last Updated 2015-2-25