For in-person shows, all visitors must follow WVU Safety Guidelines and wear a mask. For your safety, planetarium staff will all be wearing masks as well. If you have any questions or concerns please email planetarium@mail.wvu.edu.

Our shows

Our shows generally last about 45-60 minutes and are a combination of 10-20 minute introductions, where our staff manipulates the night sky and uses visuals and animations to discuss a particular topic, followed by a 25-40 minute full dome film that is professional produced and rendered for our dome. Visit our Field Trips page request a special presentation for your group and to see our list of virtual offerings.

Introductions 

Introductions are 10-20 minutes lessons before we play the full dome film where our staff manipulates the night sky and discusses a particular topic. 

Night Sky Tonight:
 All Ages
How do you find the North Star? What about the Big Dipper? What constellations and planets are visible tonight? This is our most popular intro lesson and gives all audiences the basic tools to get oriented to the night sky. 

3D Constellations: 
Grades K+
Stars within constellations may look as though they are close to one another, but they may be many many lightyears apart! In this intro, we look at just how far stars are from us and each other and see what constellations would look like if we could see them in three dimensions. 

Galilean Moons: Grades 5+
Published in 1610, Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius ("The Starry Messenger") detailed his earliest discoveries such as mountains on the Moon, phases of Venus, and four moons apparently orbiting Jupiter (not the Earth), all using a telescope of his own design! Join us as we recreate several of Galileo's observations of the "Medicean moons" and marvel at the accuracy he was able to achieve. 

Lincoln Almanac Trial: Grades 9+
The year is 1858, Abraham Lincoln is a young lawyer in Illinois representing the defendant in a murder trial. By looking at the position of the Moon, Lincoln proves the man innocent using a farmer's almanac. Learn how is this intriguing telling of a true story. 
 
Moon Apogee and Perigee: Grades 5+
Have you ever noticed that sometimes the Moon looks bigger or smaller on the sky? Why does this happen? With this introduction, we look at the Moon's orbit and how the Moon appears at different times.

Seasons:  Grades 5+
Why does the Earth experience seasons? What’s the tilt of the Earth’s axis got to do with anything? What is it tilted with respect to? Why does the Sun appear at different altitudes at different times of the year? What is insolation? What do the apparent daytime paths of the Sun look like at the solstices and equinox at 40° N latitude? At the equator? At the North Pole? At the Arctic Circle? At the South Pole? Why does the amount of daylight vary through the year at one location? Why do different latitudes experience different amounts of daylight?

The Solar System: Grades K+ 
After you learn about what constellations you can see in the night sky tonight, take a tour of our solar system! Learn which planet is the hottest in our solar system, which planets have rings, and which planet rotates on its side. We'll take a journey from Mercury all the way to Pluto, stopping at each planet in between!

Stellar Sizes: Grades K+ 
The Sun is extremely large with respect to the Earth, but how does it compare to other stars in our galaxy? Join us as we tour the variety of stars that inhabit the Milky Way and be amazed by how large (and small) they can be!

Special INTRO Topics include: 

Climate Change:  Grades 9+
What planets in our solar system mimic the extremes of climate change? How are the different components of the Earth connected and affected through climate change? This is a hot topic that deserves a closer look. Learn about climate change and the science behind it in this special topic that features  Dynamic Earth as the main film. Then take a closer look at how climate change is effecting West Virginia and what you can do to help.

Gravitational Waves:  Grades 9+
Have you ever wondered how black holes collide? Or how stars are born? Gravitational waves are the key to unlocking those mysteries. Learn about spacetime, gravity, and gravitational waves in this special topic that features Einstein's Gravity Playlist as the main film, and how WVU is contributing to these efforts through the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology (GWAC).       

Hidden Figures in the Stars:  Grades 6+
“Hidden Figures in the Stars” celebrates the contributions of West Virginian astrophysicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, a woman who essential to NASA’s human spaceflight efforts in the 1960’s and 70’s. As a woman of color who grew up in White Sulphur Spring, WV, Johnson was largely unrecognized during her working years, but she was eventually given the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2015. We will discuss the mathematical contributions of Johnson and the scientific advances that were enabled by her efforts. 

Featured films include: 

These are full dome films last 25-40 minutes and are professionally produced and rendered for our dome!

Accidental Astronauts Accidental Astronauts:  Grades K-3 | 32 minutes |  Trailer

Follow the adventures of Sy and Annie and their dog Armstrong as they embark on an unexpected journey into space! Explore the Earth, Sun and Moon system with a wise-cracking starship computer. Follow an asteroid as it crashes into the Moon. Bounce along with them on the lunar surface. Get up close and personal with a solar storm. "The Accidental Astronauts" is a space adventure for all ages.



BH

Black Holes:  Grades 5+ | 22 minutes | Trailer

Few mysteries in the universe have the power and awe of the black hole. Where do they come from? How do we find them? Is there one on Earth's horizon? Black Holes takes you on a journey through one of the most mystifying, awe-inspiring phenomena in the universe: a black hole.



DMM

The Dark Matter Mystery: Grades 9+ | 38 minutes |  Trailer 

What keeps Galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the Universe? What makes the Universe look the way it looks today? Researchers all around the world try to answer these questions. We know today that approximately a quarter of the Universe is filled with a mysterious glue: Dark Matter. We know that it is out there. But we have no idea what it is made out of.This planetarium show takes you on the biggest quest of contemporary astrophysics. You will see why we know that Dark Matter exists, and how this search is one of the most challenging and exciting searches science has to offer. Join the scientists on their hunt for Dark Matter with experiments in space and deep underground. Will they be able to solve the Dark Matter Mystery? 


Dawn Dawn of the Space Age: Grades 6+ | 30 Minutes | Trailer

From the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights — be immersed and overwhelmed with this most accurate historic reconstruction of man's first steps into space. Who were these men and women who took part in these death-defying endeavors? Witness their drive, their passion, and their perseverance to explore... in Dawn of the Space Age.


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NEW : Dynamic Earth: Grades 9+ | 24 Minutes | Trailer

Now in 150 planetariums worldwide, Dynamic Earth explores the inner workings of Earth’s great life support system: the global climate. With visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations, this cutting-edge production follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate: the atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere.  Audiences will ride along on swirling ocean and wind currents, dive into the heart of a monster hurricane, come face-to-face with sharks and gigantic whales, and fly into roiling volcanoes.*


EMS Earth Moon Sun: Grades K-6 | 26 minutes | Trailer 

Learn why the Sun rises and sets, examine the Moon’s orbit, craters, phases and eclipses, and explore past and future space travel to the Moon and beyond with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions, who has many misconceptions about Earth and its neighbors. 



EWW

Earth's Wild Ride: Grades 2-4 | 20 minutes | Trailer

Set on the surface of the Moon in the year 2081, a grandfather and his granddaughter watch a solar eclipse from scenic cliffs overlooking their moon colony. As they watch the Moon's shadow move across Earth, the grandfather tells stories of crashing asteroids, erupting volcanoes, roaring dinosaurs, electrifying lightning and booming thunder. 



EGP

Einstein's Gravity Playlist: Grades 9+ | 22 minutes | Information

Einstein's Gravity Playlist  is an original planetarium show that explores the ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, and a century later, scientists detected these waves using incredibly precise laser technology here on Earth.  In honor of this long-anticipated detection, the scientists who created the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017.  In this show, viewers follow Lucia, a PhD student in physics, on an exploration of how gravitational waves are formed, how they move through the universe, and how scientists like her work to hear them.**


E2U From Earth to the Universe: Grades 9+ | 30 Minutes| Trailer

The night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe for as long as there have been people. A desire to comprehend the Universe may well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. Yet only recently have we truly begun to grasp our place in the vast cosmos. To learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes, we invite you to experience From Earth to the Universe.



Larry Cat in Space show poster Larry Cat in Space: Grades K-3 | 30 minutes | Trailer

Larry Cat In Space is a playful, imaginative cartoon presentation about an inquisitive cat 
who takes a trip to the Moon.



Oasis in Space show poster

Oasis in Space: Grades 3-7 | 24 minutes | Trailer

Oasis in Space transports the audience on a startling and beautiful voyage through our universe, galaxy and solar system in search of liquid water - a key ingredient for life on Earth. 




Secrets of Gravity show poster

The Secrets of Gravity: Grades 3+ | 28 minutes |  Trailer 

Why do things fall to the ground without magic? The young magician’s apprentice Limbradur is far more interested in the universe and its secrets than boring magic spells. He is fascinated by the stars, the universe and the laws of nature. So, one night he sneaks into the Albert Einstein Museum, where he meets ALBYX3, a small, clever but rather quirky robot who knows all about Albert Einstein and his theories. Alby takes Limbradur on a magical journey of discovery through time and space, during which they not only uncover the secrets of gravity but also learn much about friendship and imagination. For Limbradur and Alby both have secrets of their own. 


Solar Superstorms show poster Solar Superstorms: Grades 5+ | 24 minutes | Trailer

A fury is building on the surface of the Sun – high-velocity jets, a fiery tsunami wave that reaches 100,000 kilometers high, rising loops of electrified gas. What's driving these strange phenomena? How will they affect planet Earth? Find the answers as we venture into the seething interior of our star.




Stars show posterStars: The Powerhouses of the Universe:Grades 4+ | 26 minutes | Trailer

Every star has a story; some are as old as time, faint and almost forgotten while others burn bright and end their lives in powerful explosions. New stars are created every day, lighting the Universe. Journey to the furthest reaches of our galaxy and experience both the awesome beauty and destructive power of stars.



Stars of the Pharaohs show poster Stars of the Pharaohs: Grades 6+ | 35 minutes | Trailer

Travel to ancient Egypt to see how science was used to tell time, make a workable calendar, and align buildings. You’ll learn about the connection the ancient Egyptians felt with the stars and various astronomical phenomena.




Supervolcanoes show poster Supervolcanoes: Grades 5+ | 24 minutes | Trailer

Earth has seen many violent and devastating eruptions in its time, going back over 250 million years ago. Supervolcanoes looks back at rare classes of eruptions that have marshaled the energy that lurks, like a sleeping dragon, beneath the surface of planet Earth. Move beyond Earth to explore the impact of giant volcanic eruptions around our solar system. Can a supervolcano erupt in our time?



Tales of the Maya Skies show poster Tales of the Maya Skies: Grades 5+ | 35 minutes | Trailer

Tales of the Maya Skies takes you on an exciting journey back in time to the beautiful jungle city of Chichén Itzá and the world of the ancient Maya. Here we discover how this ancient civilization learned to interpret the world around them to develop a sophisticated understanding of astronomy, mathematics and science - knowledge that has influenced much of our present day learning. 




To Space and Back show posterTo Space and Back: Grades 5+ | 35 minutes | Trailer

Space exploration has enriched all of our lives. Not only has it enabled us to discover a universe of unimaginable scale and beauty, but the technology behind it is shaping our world and the way we live. From the devices we use every day to the tools that are breaking new ground in medicine and engineering, we can thank space exploration for making our modern lives possible.



Two Small Pieces of Glass show poster Two Small Pieces of Glass: Grades 3+ | 23 minutes | Trailer

While attending a local star party, two teenagers learn how the telescope has helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the Universe. Their conversation with a local female astronomer enlightens them on the history of the telescope and the discoveries these wonderful tools have made. The students see how telescopes work and how the largest observatories in the world use these instruments to explore the mysteries of the universe.


Ultimate Universe show poster

Ultimate Universe: Grades 5+ | 33 minutes | Trailer

Ultimate Universe takes you on a stunning journey through the cosmos, exploring galaxies, nebulae, and our own neighborhood, the Solar System.



Space Opera: Grades 5+ | 40 minutes | Trailer

Space Opera PosterSpace Opera is a full dome interplanetary journey for digital planetariums. It was conceived, directed and produced by Matteo Gagliardi accompanied by the notes of "Op.32: The Planets" by Gustav Holst (ABC Classics). The environment recreates the interior of an alien spaceship, with a voice acting as a guide that links up fragments of human knowledge, transporting passengers-spectators in a flow of art, science and literature. Under a hyper-technological cap, an enveloping panoramic window shows the celestial bodies during the journey, which proceeds by cosmic stages and interplanetary corridors, up to the borders of the Cosmos.



VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP SHOWS

  1. Tour of Our Solar System (~45mins, 1st - 4th grade) - 
    1. This presentation takes you on a journey through our Solar System! We stop at each of the planets and learn interesting facts about each. In addition to the planets, we take a brief look at our Moon and the oceans of the outer Solar System. Optional link to a ~25min movie, The Zula Patrol: Down to Earth, can be shared as well.
  2. The Legends of the Night Sky: Orion (~20mins, 1st - 4th grade) - 
    1. Orion, one of the most famous and recognizable constellations in the night sky, is popular for a good reason! Tune in to learn about the many unique stars and other objects that make Orion so fascinating. Afterwards, a ~25min movie will be shared that tells the myth behind how Orion the Hunter became a constellation in the night sky.
  3. The Legends of the Night Sky: Perseus and Andromeda (~20mins, 1st - 4th grade) - 
    1. Take a closer look into the constellations of Perseus and Andromeda. We highlight some of their "hidden" treasures and show how to find them in the night sky! Afterwards, a ~18min movie will be shared that tells the story of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, and Cetus.
  4. Full Moon and Eclipses (~45mins, 4th - 7th grades) -  
    1. We take a closer look into what created the Moon, why it has the features it does, and how the phases of the Moon occur. Explore the specific alignments needed to get an eclipse and learn about the many different types of eclipses that can occur.
  5. Solar Superstorms (~20mins, 5th - 10th grade) -        
    1. How does our Sun compare to the other stars in the sky? What kind of powerful and intense storms ravage the surface of the Sun? Afterwards, we'll share ~24 minute movie,  Solar Superstorms.
  6. Supervolcanoes (~35mins, 5th - 10th grade) -
    1. We take a quick look at what is up in the night sky tonight before journeying through our Solar System on a quest to find volcanoes. There are lots of volcanoes not just on Earth but on other planets! Did you know there are volcanoes that spew ice instead of hot molten rock? Or that there are pancake volcanoes on Venus? Learn about these and more! Afterwards, we'll share ~24 minute movie,  Supervolcanoes.
  1. Ask an Astronomer / How to Become a Scientist (~30min or 1hr, all ages) - 
    1. For a younger audience, we suggest only the Ask an Astronomer portion of this show. Students will have the opportunity to ask astronomers any of their burning questions about space, physics, and astronomy. It would be helpful to have students submit questions beforehand or have questions ready to ask the astronomers. For high schoolers, and middle schoolers, the addition of How to Become a Scientist would  allow our staff to tell their own tales of the courses, activities, and decisions they made that led them to their career of a scientist. We are hoping this section would allow students to ask questions about STEM courses and the path they might want to take high school / college for a STEM career.
*description provided by the Fulldome Database,  **description from Montana State