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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. ($3/person)
  • "Night Sky" 30-minute tour of the stars, planets and constellations currently visible ($3/person)
  • "Tour the Cosmos" 50-minute presentation for general audiences recommended for children older than 6 ($5/person)

Visit our events calendar for planetarium presentation times.

Summer Show Descriptions:

  • Tonight's Skies

This hour long presentation goes into detail about constellation identification, celestial navigation, the seasons, planetary observation, current events, and much more. This show is a great introduction to the night sky and will have you finding our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, in a pinch from your backyard. As a special treat, this show delves into photos from a variety of telescopes from Chile in South America, to Arizona, to outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. A great show for those yearning to learn about space and the secrets it holds, this show will change slightly depending on the audience reaction.

  • It Came From Above

Most of the Mass Extinctions endured by life on Earth have their origins in outer space. Would you like to know the many ways in which the Cosmos could destroy us?  Come learn about the meteors, comets, Gamma Ray Bursts, rogue planets, and even Red Giants that plot our destruction even now…. Can we do something about them? Is there hope for our planet, or are we all doomed?!

  • Journey to the Asteroid Belt

The New Horizons spacecraft zipped by Pluto on July 15th and took the first close-up images of that distant body ever seen by human beings. But it isn't the only dwarf planet being visited this year.  The Dawn spacecraft, which visited Vesta in 2011, has arrived at Ceres and is currently exploring that diminutive world tucked amid the clutter of the asteroid belt. We'll take a brief tour of the Dawn mission thus far and along the way give a little historical context for flavor.

  • Night’s Skies

Learn about what stars and planets will be visible tonight.  The presentation will highlight current astronomical events.  Some shows will focus on celestial navigation!

Full Dome Planetarium Movies:

  • 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.

  • Special Free Saturday Morning Shows for (through Aug 22nd) - Three different shows!

Open to all and FREE!  Descriptions below, visit our Event Calendar for showtimes.

  • Space Shapes

Audience: ages 3-8  Length: 9 minutes

A short introduction to the planetarium environment that discusses different round shapes in space for pre-school audiences (round like a pancake or round like a ball?). Created by participants of the 2010 Blender Production Workshop

  • Clockwork Skies

Audience: ages 5-10 Length: 5 minutes

Explores the patterns of motion and time in our skies. Created by participants of the 2010 Blender Production Workshop.

  • Sizing up Space

Audience: ages 6-12 Length: 13 minutes

Explores the scale of the universe and the concept of the light year. Created by participants of the 2009 Blender Production Workshop at the Mediaglobe Users Group Conference


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.