We welcome your class to the planetarium. Our shows are live, interactive, and can be adjusted to meet different needs.
To reserve a program, submit a Request Form at least 2 weeks in advance of your visit.
The planetarium program costs $75 for 60 minutes and up to 68 students. You experience a live presentation that includes one of the show topics below and a tour of the night sky featuring the constellations and their stories. For an additional $50, extend your visit with activities.
The Dramatic Life of a Star
Marvel at the dramatic changes of stars as they transform from stellar nurseries to exotic objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Discover how stars fused the chemical elements in our bodies. Gaze at the night sky away from city lights and witness how stars vary in brightness and colors.
Explore the cosmos on this whirlwind journey from the solar system to the farthest corners of the universe. Tour thrilling highlights of our own solar system, such as solar storms and the rings of Saturn, before heading out to visit stars and exoplanets in the Milky Way galaxy. Behold the Milky Way on a collision course with its neighbor Andromeda as you travel into the depths of space to glimpse our universe in its infancy.
Illuminating Our Universe
Discover clues left by the birth of the universe and investigate how scientists measure the speed of distant galaxies and the leftover radiation from the early cosmos. Gaze at planets, stars, and the Milky Way galaxy during the stargazing portion of the program.
WI Standards for Science SCI.ESS1.A.h
Optional activities last 20 minutes and cost $50 per activity.
Students learn to use star charts to identify 6-10 constellations in the sky.
Preparing For Your Visit
We recommend introducing grade-appropriate astronomy topics before visiting the planetarium. This might range from basic constellations for younger students to atomic structures and the electromagnetic spectrum for older students. Any exposure will help your students engage more at the planetarium. See the Resource Materials section below.
Students may eat their own lunch in the cafeteria on the ground level of the UWM Union, a short walk east of the planetarium. Students are welcome to eat lunch outdoors, weather permitting.
Find activities, videos, readings, and other resource materials for your class.
Theme One: Astronomical (Celestial) Objects in the Day and Night Sky
- The Sun is the closest star to us
- Moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite
- Stars are big balls of gas that make their own light
- Planets (the Earth is a planet) go around stars and in our solar system they have to be big enough to form a spherical shape rather than a potato shape
- Meteors or shooting stars or falling stars are brief luminous trails observed when a small piece of rock from space enters the Earth’s upper atmosphere
- Galaxies are large groups of stars (typically 100 billion) held together by their mutual gravitational attraction
Activity: NASA lessons on the universe
Website: Windows to the Universe information/images
Video: Science Channel: Milky Way Galaxy
Video: Space.com on time
Video: Hubble: collision of galaxies
Images: Hubble gallery of galaxies
Theme Two: The Solar System
- Overview of Solar System: 1 star, 8 planets, and many small objects
Website: NASA information
Website: Windows to the Universe information
Video: Space School: Pluto-Dwarf Planet
Video: Space School: Solar System
Video: Size perspective of the solar system
Video: 3-D perspective on the solar system
- How do we know the physical properties of planets?
Activity: NASA lesson plan: visible spectra of known elements
Website: Multiple NASA resources on Mars (Including videos, image gallery, lesson plans)
- Formation of the Solar System
Theme Three: Earth/Moon/Sun Interactions
- Rotation of the Earth: Evidence is Day and Night
Video: Kurdistan Planetarium (Earth moves in a helical motion around the Sun as it travels through our galaxy)
- Phases of the Moon
- Historical perspective: geocentric/heliocentric
- Aurora Borealis
- Solar flares
Theme Four: Constellations
- Modern 88 official constellations, Seasonal versus Circumpolar constellations, and some basic constellations
- Sky maps and stargazing
Theme Five: Life of a Star
- How do stars live?
- Stellar corpses: black holes, neutron stars
Website: Hubble information (See “Journey to Black Hole”)
Video: Space School on black holes and quasars
Video: Canada’s Perimeter for Theoretical Physics: Gravitational lensing and dark matter
Video: National Geographic Society on interstellar travel
Video: Space.com (Search “Black Hole: Warping Time and Space”)
- HR diagram
Website: Overview of HR diagram
Theme Six: Forces and Physical Properties
Video: How gravity really works
Theme Seven: Space Exploration
Theme Eight: Big Bang Theory and Cosmology
Theme Nine: Exoplanets
Website: Detection methods of exoplanets
Theme Ten: Electromagnetic Spectrum
- Black Holes and Other Space Phenomena, Young Observer
- The Usborne Internet-Linked Book of Astronomy and Space, Lisa Miles and Alastair Smith
- Nature Activities Star Gazer, Ben Morgan
- 1000 Facts About Space, Pam Beasant
- A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
- Astronomy magazine
- Discover magazine