Welcome to Peterson Planetarium
Spring 2018 Planetarium Shows
Schedule your own show with Peterson Planetarium by clicking on our Scheduling tab up above.
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.
- Every other Saturday, 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 Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 7:45, a documentary series is presented on the past, present, and future of NASA. This history series is told through documentation of NASA's feats and a comprehensive compilation of a variety of space exploration topics, from the beginning of the space race to the Mars rovers, the detection of gravity waves, 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.
- See where the International Space Station (ISS) is right now with the Astro Viewer (http://iss.astroviewer.net/).
- Here is a Live Camera viewing of Earth but only during the Day (https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ESRS/HDEV/).
- Interactive Tour of ISS (https://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/ISSRG/).
- You can sign up to get emails on when the ISS is visible from your location by signing up for spot the station.
- 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'.