Zacheis Planetarium Expands Programs

Daniel Allsup
The Paw Print

The Harry Zacheis Planetarium and Observatory is expanding and offering more programs to appeal to the university patrons and local community.

Dr. Astalos, director of the planetarium and an associate physics professor, says, “The goal of the grant that paid for this renovation is to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. We’re hoping that the planetarium will spark an interest in kids, leading to more STEM students in college.”

For the community, there are public shows every Friday. The shows, of which the planetarium has eight, utilize the full-dome. The shows are free, but tickets are required for each show due to the limited capacity in the Planetarium. Tickets can be picked up as early as 3:30pm on the day of the show.

There are six shows left this semester, a perfect way to kick off a weekend. The showtimes are at 3:45pm and 4:30pm each Friday afternoon. “Planetarium shows are growing more popular all the time. As more people learn about them, we get larger and larger audiences,” says Dr. Astalos.

The Zacheis Planetarium and Observatory has been around since 1964, but received a needed facelift in 2012. The renovations include a new dome, a new projector, and new carpet and seating. The STEM grant not only supplied the Planetarium with their enhanced full-dome library of shows but also made these renovations possible.

The renovations and enhanced library have drawn in more people. Dr. Astolos says “We’ve had good attendance at our programs. More importantly, our numbers continue to rise. And we’re seeing more and more local area teachers bringing their classes to the planetarium.” He continues, “Of course, as more people and more Valley teachers learn about this resource, our attendance numbers will only get better.”

Dr. Astalos mentions that shows from the original collection such as “Black Holes,” “Dynamic Earth,” and “Natural Selection” have the greatest appeal.” Dynamic Earth will be showing this Friday. “We have three more new movies on the way that should rival the best of our current collection,” Dr. Astalos boasts.

The planetarium serves as the hub for the astronomy club, but is also attracting students from a myriad of programs from around campus. “We also have music majors who are composing original music for the planetarium and theater majors who are providing narration for original programs,” Dr. Astalos notes.

The planetarium figures to be a gateway to lead future students to STEM focuses. Dr. Astalos shared the planetarium’s vision: “Our plan is to continue to increase our offerings to the public and to valley schools, by both increasing the number of shows we have to offer and expanding our offerings into STEM fields other than astronomy.”

With all the shows and features that the planetarium offers, it appears to be well on its way to fulfilling the purposes of the STEM grant. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet