Phantom of the Universe

Phantom of the Universe will be in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium starting Sept. 11.

Phantom of the Universe will be in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium starting Sept. 11.

| Categories: Fairbanks Museum, Planetarium Blog, Programs and Events, What's Happening

Our Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium is OPEN after a week of cleaning and upgrades.

We’re NOW OPEN with new shows!

Here’s a sneak peek at “Phantom of the Universe: the Hunt for Dark Matter,” a new planetarium show that details the mysteries of dark matter, from its gravitational effects observed in space to the underground experiments designed to find out what it’s made of.

“We’re clearing out some cobwebs,” says Oliver Ames, director of the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum. “It’s been a while since we’ve been able to go through the closets and cabinets behind our planetarium – we’re pulling out old telescopes that were stashed away for years and hope they’ll be used again.” The punch list of tasks for the planetarium includes a review of lighting and other necessary maintenance for this high-traffic space.

When the planetarium reopens on Monday, September 11, a new show will be featured. “Explore Dark Matter: Phantom of the Universe” is an absorbing trek in pursuit of invisible dark matter. Scientists have detected dark matter through its gravitations effects and believe it accounts for over 85 percent of the total mass of our universe. And yet, we don’t know what it is.

Michael Barnett, a physicist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, created this new show for viewing in a planetarium to immerse audiences in the search for dark matter. “I wanted to convey the excitement of what’s going on in research,” Barnett said, “to show how many things we’ve learned about dark matter, how we know it’s really there, and to show how we’re trying to figure out what it is.” Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton narrates this quest for the elusive dark matter. The full-dome experience takes viewers on a speeding journey with protons racing through the world’s largest particle collider to intimate views of the Big Bang then a deep dive to an underground experiment in South Dakota – all in search of particles no one has ever seen.

This 30-minute show is recommended for anyone over the age of 10 with a passing interest in or passion for astronomy. It offers compelling visuals based on cutting edge science. Starting September 11, planetarium shows are at 3:30 every day, plus shows at 12:30 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and weekends; and an additional 1:30 weekend show. Find times and new titles on fairanksmuseum.org/planetarium.

Tags: astronomy, dark matter, Fairbanks Museum, Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, Natural History, Northeast Kingdom, Saint Johnsbury, St. Johnsbury, stargazing, universe