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Planetarium Presentations


Lyman Spitzer Jr. PlanetariumDaily presentations in our Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium invite you to tour the cosmos. Choose from an hour-long feature or a 20- to 30-minute short presentation.

  • Full Dome Planetarium Movies: 20-30 minute movie presentations shown on a rotating schedule.  See descriptions below. ($4/person)
  • "Night Sky" 30-minute tour of the stars, planets and constellations currently visible ($4/person)
  • "Tour the Cosmos" 50-minute presentation for general audiences recommended for children older than 6 ($6/person)

Visit our events calendar for planetarium presentation times.

Daily Summer Show Descriptions, June 20-August 31:

Our Magical, Mystical Moon

Our Moon is probably the most recognizable feature in the night sky, yet it is also one of the most curious, changeable, and misunderstood objects we see. The shape of the Moon, and where we see it in the night sky are connected in an interesting way. The winter moons and the summer moons are quite different. What is the deal with Blue Moons and Super Moons And just why does the rising moon look so huge? We'll solve some mysteries and take a new look at our good old Moon. 

When Juno Met Jupiter

On this 4th of July, NASA's Juno Mission will begin the most ambitious exploration yet of the Solar System's largest planet.  Juno will begin a multi-year survey of Jupiter with an unprecedented polar-orbit, magnetometers and radiometers that can "see" through the viscous clouds, and an High-Definition camera that is likely to discover new features and even new moons! Jupiter will still be visible in our evening skies when this historic rendezvous takes place. 

Your Backyard Starry Sky

Our universe is filled with incredible things. On this hour long journey into your night sky and the greater beyond, you'll learn about our cosmic home address, missions to other planets, and the search fro alien life. From stars far larger than our own to infinitely small black holes, whorling their way through galaxies, you'll learn all about our wonderful, crazy universe and how you, on a small blue dot, give it meaning. 

Your Evening Sky

Learn about what stars and planets will be visible tonight.  The presentation will highlight current astronomical events.  This planetarium presentation is usually a personally guided tour of the cosmos by one of our astronomy experts. From time to time, we have to subsitute a recorded program instead of the live presentation. Please call ahead to confirm.

Your Backyard Starry Sky

Over the next thirty minutes take a trip to the future to see what your backyard will look llike tonight. From planets to distant galaxies to ancient myths, everything you see in the planetarium you can see tonight with your own eyes, no telescope required! In addition, you will learn all about astronomical events, current space missions, ways of finding our nearest home galaxy, navigation with the North Star and much more. 

Messier's Night Sky 

The night sky is spangled with stars of differing hues and varying brilliance. Some of these objects are labeled plainly, while the names of others are enigmatic to non-astronomers. What could "Abel 1568" possibly mean, for instance? They seem vaguely as though they could have come from a James Bond movie.  This program will demistify these dots and we'll take a close look at a few of thise objects on our way. 

  • Tour the Cosmos, 1:30pm Saturdays and Sundays

A 50 minute live presentation on various topics concerning the universe and our current understanding of it. 

Full Dome Planetarium Movie Descriptions:

  • Cosmic Castaways

Audience: General Length: 20 minutes

There are places where the night sky has no constellations.

No Orion, no Big Dipper, nothing but a few lonely, far away stars and a few faint, ghostly patches of light. Most stars lie within the crowded boundaries of galaxies, travelling with their brothers and sisters in a vast galactic family. But some find themselves on their own, deep within voids between the galaxies. These are the cosmic castaways.

This show is an original production of the Ward Beecher Planetarium and is based on the research of YSU’s resident astrophysicists Dr. John Feldmeier and Dr. Patrick Durrell.

  • Two Pieces of Glass

Audience: General Length: 30 minutes

While attending a local star party, two teenage students 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.

  • IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System

Audience: General  Length: 30 minutes

Join scientists who are investigating the boundary between our Solar System and the rest of our galaxy in IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System.

Designed for visitors with an appreciation for the challenges of space science and a desire to learn more about science research, IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System follows the creation of NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). Audiences will get an in-depth look at the mission and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our Solar System's boundary.

Narrated by two inquisitive teenagers, audiences will hear from the scientists and engineers that developed the IBEX mission and created the spacecraft, and get the latest updates on the mission's discoveries.

Planetarium seating is limited; please call ahead to reserve your place. Groups of 10 or more must confirm tickets in advance.

Please arrive at least 15 minutes in advance to claim any reserved tickets.

The planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum was installed in 1961, under the leadership of Fred Mold, who was director of the Museum. It is the only public planetarium in the state of Vermont. In 2012, a new digital projection system was installed, and the planetarium was reopened as the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, honoring the astrophysicist who was the driving force behind the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. Lyman Spitzer Jr. was a member of the Canaday family, and this dimension to exploring our universe at the Fairbanks Museum was made possible through a grant from The Canaday Family Charitable Trust.

Visitors to the planetarium will get ready for their tour of the galaxy in the Vinton Space Science Gallery, supported by a generous gift from St. Johnsbury residents Ruth and Drury Vinton. In this gallery, photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope invite imaginary journeys through our universe and beyond.

The Vinton Gallery also holds a meteorite made of iron and nickel and weighing 17.3 pounds. This meteorite is believed to have fallen 4000 to 5000 years ago in northern Argentina, part of the largest meteorite known to have crashed to Earth.