Welcome to Science and Math Education Center &
The Peterson Planetarium!
Loretto A. Langley Charitable Trust Award! In the News... Cool Facts! About our Photography... Opportunities For You!
About the Planetarium
Peterson Planetarium was named for Oscar J. Peterson, ESU chair of the math department from 1928-1963. Dr. O.J. Peterson was responsible for adding the planetarium to the new Science Hall, which opened in 1958. In 1959, Dr. George Downing became the first director and his first student planetarium operator and lecturer was Kenneth Ohm. Ken is seated beside the newly installed Spitz A-2 Star Projector that was used from 1959-1994.
Ken Ohm operating the new Spitz A-2 Star Projector in the newly opened planetarium in 1959. Three rings of
continuous bench seating, covered in red vinyl, encircled the operator and machine. The planetarium is located
in the sub-basement of Cram Science Hall. Image courtesy of Kenneth Ohm.
- On the second Saturday of the month, live shows of the night sky are presented accompanied by a full-dome program chosen from a variety of themes such as astronomy, Earth science, biology, history, and mathematics.
- Every Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7:45, a documentary series is presented on the history of U.S. space exploration. This history series is told through actual NASA footage and documentation taken from the Johnson Space center and compiled here on campus to walk the audience through the first signs of rocket development to the Space Race and beyond.
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.
- 8-21-2016: Exactly one year left until the first total solar eclipse visible in the midwest in centuries! On August 21st, 2017, the path of totality will cross over Kansas's north-eastern most corner, leaving the vast majority of the state to see only a partial eclipse, including Emporia. To observe totality, plan to be in the path by 1 pm. See a map here.
- 4-22-2016: Earth Day! Visit www.earthday.org
- 3-30-2016: Back on the 17th of March, Jupiter was hit with either an asteroid or a comet. It just happened to line up with the transit of Jupiter's moons Io and Ganymede, giving us images and video of this latest impact! Read more here!
- 3-17-2016: Peterson Planetarium will not be holding the history series on March 17th during spring break. We will pick it up again on March 24th.
- 2-17-2016: NASA gave the green light on moving forward with their Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) project, set to launch in the mid 2020's. It will have a scope 100 times wider than the Hubble's and it will provide enlightening insight into the mystery of dark matter, dark energy, and their effects on the developing universe. WFIRST will also continue the work of the Kepler mission in locating exoplanets in foreign systems' habitable zone. Read more here!
- 1-28-2016: Anniversary of the Challenger disaster. Remember the crew: Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith A. Resnik, Francis R. Scobee, Ronald E. McNair, Mike J. Smith, Ellison S. Onizuka.
- 1-20-2016: Paper published on discovery of Planet 9. However, it's yet to be visually located.
- 9-27-2015: Super Blood Moon Eclipse, overnight September 27th and 28th. Hope you saw it because the next isn't until 2033!!
- 9-21-2015: Re-discover Peterson Planetarium: Explore the renovated planetarium at Emporia State University with a week of special events.
- 9-19-2015: International Observe the Moon Night!
- 3-05-2015: NASA history series premiers! History of space exploration, an ongoing show to repeat every year. Check it out!
- 2014 Special Events: Summary of Peterson Planetarium - Check it out!
- In 2014 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.
- See where the International Space Station (ISS) is right now! Check it out HERE.
- Here is a Live Camera View of the Earth HERE. (Only during the Day)
- Interactive Tour of the ISS HERE.
- We are now offering a list of opportunities for educators and students alike for each month. Check it out HERE to find webinars, contest opportunities, and much more!
- You can sign up to get emails on when the ISS is visible from your location by signing up for spot the station HERE
- Exoplanets are planets orbiting stars that aren't our own sun. Thousands have been identified, but only a portion of these lie within the 'Goldilocks' zone of their star system, or the habitable zone in which liquid water may be found on the surface. These are the ones we're most interested, for these are the places we're most likely to find extraterrestrial life outside of Earth. Click Here for a handful of the hundreds of 'Goldilocks' Exoplanets. Bellow are links to some videos about each planet mentioned in the slideshow.
- NASA's first teacher in space, Sharon Christa McAuliffe, never got to fulfill that very role. She perished on January 28th, 1986 on the Challenger. However, her lesson plans survived as remnants of the six lost space science demonstrations that had been planned to be filmed while in orbit and released once she returned to Earth. These lesson plans have been restored and interpreted, and are now available to fulfill McAuliffe's famous words, "I touch the future, I teach." Find out more HERE.
- On the 20th of January, a paper was published by Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown to confirm the existence of a ninth planet in our solar system. Like Neptune and Uranus, this 'Planet 9' has been identified by it's gravitational influence on it's surroundings. While it hasn't been visually spotted yet, it's estimated to be 700 AU (astronomical units) from the sun on average and a single year seems to take 10,000 to 20,000 Earth years.
- With a possible new 9th planet in the news and Pluto only demoted to the status of a 'dwarf planet' in 2006, the definition of a planet has been put into our minds. So what makes a planet? Three things:
- It must directly orbit the sun. It can't orbit something that's orbiting the sun... those are called satellites.
- It must be large enough to be spherical (like a ball). Asteroids aren't very large, that's why they look like potatoes.
- It must produce enough gravity to clear it's orbital field. This means it must either pull objects down to it's surface, like a meteorite, or catapult them away like a 'gravity assist' in the movie 'The Martian'. This is where Pluto failed the test... there are too many objects in it's 'personal bubble' that it doesn't 'own'.
- Star Party; Tallgrass photos were taken by Katie Simmons and Jim Aber
- 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...
- Matt Seimears
- 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 (Go to Here) 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!
- 2015 is the Year of the Dwarves or as Dr. Schenk puts it.... Ceres and Pluto Get Their Due! For more, see HERE.
- Ceres craters were featured in the Astronomy Picture of the Day, 18 February 2015 Check it out!