Welcome to the UWM Planetarium Press Room!
You can find information about previous and current shows below!
- Birth of the Universe (1/11-2/22)
- Lunar Eclipse (1/20)
- Stars, Stories & Rhythms of Africa (2/6)
- Cupid’s Constellations (2/14)
UWM Planetarium kicked off Black History Month with the show Stars, Stories and Rhythms of Africa on February 6. The evening started with Planetarium Director Jean Creighton showing audiences constellations from different parts of the African continent. “Many people don’t realize that the African continent is so long that the night sky in Morocco looks very different than the night sky in South Africa,” said Creighton. During the presentation, storyteller Kavon Cortez-Jones talked about the Big Bang that created the universe and the earth, as well as how people poured out of Africa and spread across the whole planet. In between the two planetarium shows, Africa Alive Drum and Dance performed dances from Senegal and Guinea. The event was sponsored by Sociocultural Programming, the Planetarium Club and African and African Diaspora Studies.
- The Moon Rocks (2/20)
It was fascinating to hear about lunar exploration from a planetary geologist’s point of view. Dr. Lindsay McHenry explained that the Moon has two basic terrains: (i) highlands that are lighter in color, higher in elevation, and more cratered, and (ii) mare which are darker, smoother, and younger. Firstly, we looked at samples of anorthosite (which is made of feldspar, a rock-forming mineral that 51% of the Earth’s crust is made of); this rock is from the time that the Moon would have a liquid magma ocean and less dense feldspar would rise to the surface whereas denser olivine and pyroxene would sink. On Earth, it is unusual to get feldspar without quartz or olivine because minerals tend to crystallize together. Secondly, McHenry showed us breccia rocks that occurred from impact sites on the Moon. These rocks show angular broken fragment texture. Thirdly, we saw a sample of a basalt on Earth that would look very similar to that on the Moon—bubbles are frozen in the rock. However, a basalt that formed 200 years ago on Earth would be in significantly worse shape than the 3.9 billion year old basaltic glass that we have found on the Moon. There is so little weathering on our natural satellite. McHenry’s favorite is the beautiful volcanic glass in the lunar soil that cooled in lovely spheres in the absence of an atmosphere to give the aerodynamic shapes that we see in the glass near volcanoes on Earth.
- Paradise at the Planetarium
Guests escaped the harsh Wisconsin winter with a trip to Hawaii at the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium. They viewed vibrant island landscapes, learned about Polynesian culture, and saw the night sky from near the equator.
- Exploring Other Moons: The Amazing Atmosphere of Titan (Apollo 50- 3/13)
Seeing Saturn through a telescope for the first time as a first grade student got Dr. Joe Aldstadt hooked on the cosmos long before he discovered his main passion, chemistry. Both of his interests came happily together when he described the chemistry of the atmosphere of Titan, the biggest moon of Saturn’s 62 moons, at our event on March 13. This intriguing moon has an opaque atmosphere due to a thick haze riddled with hydrocarbons from simple ones such as methane, ethane, and propane to complex organic molecules such as benzene and cool polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Titan looks like home: it has weather systems and flowing rivers because methane can be in three phases: rain, ice, and vapor, just as water can be on Earth. The Huygens probe made measurements for 90 minutes on the surface of Titan.Aldstadt pointed out an interesting connection between Titan and a much smaller moon, Enceladus. The spacecraft Cassini flew 50 km above the surface of Enceladus through one of the 100 geysers that are like cold volcanoes. Each of these geysers spewed 500 lbs of icy material per second! Not only does that feed the E-ring (what is that?) of Saturn, it probably provides some of the oxygen seen on Titan. With many new questions, there are plans to revisit Titan when we launch “Titan Dragonfly” (explain what this is) around 2025. If you want to know more, Aldstadt recommends reading the book, “Titan Unveiled” by Ralph Lorenz & Jacqueline Mitton.
- Arabian Nights (March 29-May 3, Fridays from 7-8 p.m.)
Did you know that many names of stars are Arabic? Join us at Arabian Nights to learn about all aspects of Arab culture, from food to architecture, as well as its many contributions to astronomy. Guest speakers Lina Badwan and Mohamed Maache will give a personal account of their homelands, Palestine and Algeria. Gaze at the starry night sky as astronomer Jean Creighton shares her favorite story from “One Thousand and One Nights.”
- To the Moon: The Greatest Engineering Adventure Ever Undertaken (Apollo 50- 3/28, 5:30-6:30 p.m.)
Mechanical engineering professor Dr. Nathan P. Salowitz will discuss the engineering marvels that allowed us to safely land humans on the Moon and bring them back.
- Hubble’s Cosmic Quest
- Stars Under African Skies
- Cupid’s Constellations
- Lei Under the Stars
- Starry Safari & Birthday Specials
- Indigenous Voices: Sharing the Wisconsin Sky
- Music Under the Stars
- Whispers from Space
- Extreme Astronomy Cookout
- Kavli Lecture Series: Our Planetary Experiment
- Cosmic Highlights
- Exoplanets and Ice Cream
- Stars n S’mores
- Haunted Horizons
- Constellations of the Zodiac
- Music By the Light of the Stars