Ball State planetarium resumes public shows after COVID-19 closure

<p>Constellations are projected onto the dome at the Charles W. Brown Planetarium. Planetarium Director Dayna Thompson shows the audience how to find the different patterns in the sky before and after each show. <strong>Charles W. Brown Planetarium, Photo Courtesy</strong></p>

Constellations are projected onto the dome at the Charles W. Brown Planetarium. Planetarium Director Dayna Thompson shows the audience how to find the different patterns in the sky before and after each show. Charles W. Brown Planetarium, Photo Courtesy

Earth, Moon and Sun” is the planetarium’s next scheduled show. It will be shown June 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 6:30 p.m, and will cover the basics of fusion, solar energy and why the sun appears to rise and set each day.

Charles W. Brown Planetarium dome shows have been a staple at Ball State for more than 50 years. Last week, planetarium staff aired its second show after a long break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Astronaut” is a short film about what it takes to be someone who trains through space and the overall dangers, including freezing to death, getting sucked into the space vacuum and radiation. The film also celebrates the successes and accomplishments of astronauts. 

“I think every child should see that,” audience member Carolyn Landis said after the June 10 show.

The planetarium opened to the public June 3 for the first viewing of “Astronaut.”

 “We didn’t allow any outside groups to come for private showings during the day or with public showings,” said Dayna Thompson, planetarium director. “Instead, we had the dome in use for Ball State classes who wanted to come.”

When people go to these events, the planetarium doesn’t just show movies. Thompson also has educational segments before and after the shows where she teaches the audience how to find certain constellations, and even the North Star.

“Everything was geared nicely toward kids,” audience member JD Keller said June 10. “I liked the constellations, and the movie wasn’t too long, so it kept everyone’s attention.”

The planetarium has shows scheduled until July 30 this summer. It has shows during the school year as well, but the schedule for those has not yet been posted. Private showings can be scheduled online for groups of 25 or more who would like one. While shows are always free to the public, donations are accepted. 

“We have always wanted to be a resource for the community, and that’s why we offer programs free of charge,” Thompson said. “It’s not just for Ball State students, it’s for anyone who wants to come.”

Contact Lauren Clark with comments at lnclark2@bsu.edu.

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