Planetarium offers space shows to public
By Patrick Dillon
visalia – Most kids have gazed up at the night sky in wonder about the reaches of the far beyond. Since 2015, the Tulare County Office of Education has operated the Peña Planetarium to teach students about space. Beginning this month, the Planetarium is bringing back a series of shows that will be open to the public’s viewing.
“It’s a new facility and we are always happy to show these shows when we are able to, and to try to find ways to make it more accessible,” said planetarium supervisor Conan Palmer.
There are two shows scheduled for the month of August beginning this Friday, Aug. 11, with a show called “From Earth to the Universe.”
The universe may very well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. This show is for those interested in the history of celestial discovery beginning with ancient Greek astronomers to today’s newest telescopes and technologies. The show is 30 minutes long and all are welcome to view it.
Then, the second show will take place on Aug. 18, and it is called, “Earth, Moon and Sun.”
Viewers will learn how the earth, moon and sun work together and some of the myths and science behind it. They will learn about the past of space flight and plans to travel back to the moon and beyond. This show will also feature information about eclipses. This show’s target audience is from first graders on up, but all are welcome. “Earth, Moon and Sun” is 30 minutes long.
“We chose that show for that date in anticipation of the partial eclipse that you can see from Visalia that following Monday,” said Palmer.
In order to get ready for the event, the Planetarium will be selling eclipse shades for 50 cents each at both of the shows in August.
The theater at the Planetarium holds about 70 people and after each of the shows, viewers will be able to experience the night sky projected on their 30 foot diameter dome roof. Then the staff will take them through the stars and constellations that are visible that night.
There are two shows scheduled for each of the dates, one at 6 p.m. and a second at 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $4, while children 11 and younger are $3. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Tickets are only available the day of the show at the Planetarium after 5 p.m. Last year, the majority of the shows sold out, so be early to get your ticket. If there is enough demand for a certain show, the Planetarium could add another showing at 8 p.m. but there is no guarantee. There is also no admittance to the show once it has begun.
The Planetarium’s Galaxy Gift Shop will be open 30 minutes before show time. There are plenty of items for sale, including lava lamps, sky gliders and star charts. Merchandise prices range from 25 cents to $15.
Some of the other shows planned for the 2017-2018 year are “Wildest Weather in the Solar System,” Perfect Little Planet,” “Saturn: Jewel of the Heavens,” and “Dawn of the Space Age.” As of yet, there are no dates scheduled for these upcoming shows.
For more information or questions, you can contact the Sam B. Pena Planetarium and Science Center at 559-733-6433 or visit the web site www.tcoe.org/planetarium.