Note: each of the regular, adult full-dome movies described below is always preceded by a live presentation of the current night sky using the SciDome digital video projection system, with special focus on items pertaining to the movie that follows. A live presentation is generally not included in the family shows.
FAMILY SHOWS! Oftentimes, our regular public shows are not well-suited for familes with young children, since the movies are aimed basically at adults (see Planetarium Policy 3 at the bottom of this column). So we are continuing a popular format from last year: the family show. Families with children 5-10 years of age will probably find these more suitable. These are shorter, about half an hour in length, and do not include a live presentation.
The schedule for family shows is not yet set due to not-yet-scheduled computer renovations planned for some time this fall. We'll post information as soon as it's available. Family and public shows will not start before the last week in September.
One final inducement for choosing the family shows: they're cheaper! Admission fees are only $2 for all attendees.
Sundays, 3 p.m.
Sept. 27–Nov. 22
Without the Sun, life on Earth would be impossible. But the Sun has a metaphorical dark side. It is, after all, a gigantic ball of nuclear fire in our sky, with a churning core at a temperature of 27 million degrees, and a radiating surface that is tossed about by energetic tsunami waves up to 60,000 miles high. At any moment, it can burp out enormous rivers of electrically-charged particles that can paralyze modern technology on Earth.
“Solar Superstorms,” narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, takes us deep into the inner workings of our star. Using the latest supercomputer simulations, the movie follows the path of hot magnetized gas from deep within the Sun, through its tangled journey through the Sun’s agitated outer layers, and on up to explosive magnetic eruptions reaching across space, so powerful they can shut down power lines and communications networks around the Earth. The last and largest of such superstorm was described by Richard Carrington in 1859; we’re due for another! (this show is best watchable by children eight years of age and older)
One World, One Sky
Sunday, Oct. 4, 2 p.m.
Young audience members will be thrilled when they find themselves on Sesame Street with their famous friends, Big Bird and Elmo. The fun begins when Elmo's friend, Hu Hu Zhu, visits from China and the three of them take the audience on an exciting journey of discovery to learn about the Sun, stars, and Big Dipper. Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu blast off on an imaginary trip to the Moon and when they return home to Earth everyone discovers that, no matter where we live, we all share the same sky.
The Little Star That Could
Sunday, Nov. 1, 2 p.m.
An average star is born from a great cloud of gas and dust. We follow his journey through space, searching for planets and a name for himself. He encounters stars of all sizes and temperatures, including a hot blue star and the double stars Goldie and Sapphire, but none of them can give him any planets. Finally, the Milky Way speaks to him, and reveals where his planets have been hiding. His planets tell him all about themselves, and give him his special name (no, I'm not going to reveal it here: you'll have to come see the show!).
Season of Light
Sundays, 3 p.m.,
Saturdays, 7 p.m.
Nov. 28–Dec. 13
Our traditional winter holiday show portrays how humans deal with and even celebrate the frigid nights of this dark season by illuminating them in creative ways. Noah Adams (of NPR fame) will explain the origins of the familiar holiday customs, why the winter night are so long and dark, and what the mysterious “Star of Bethlehem” might have been.
“Season” utilizes all the power of our SciDome digital projection system to advantage. It’s visually rich and musically entertaining. “Season” is a great way to warm up those cold weekend nights!
Due to the show’s popularity, extra performances have been added. “Season of Light” will play Saturday nights at 7 p.m., and Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m., through December 13. Tickets go on sale half an hour before showtime. This show is watchable by children six years of age and older.
The Alien Who Stole Christmas
Sunday, Dec. 6, 2 p.m.
Earth children are not the only ones who might enjoy Christmas! In this show, an alien named Mr. Freep kidnaps Santa Claus, and takes him on a tour of our solar system in his flying saucer to show him how alien children would like to enjoy a visit from the Jolly Old Elf as well!
Admission fees for regular public shows:
$3 Rowan students with ID
$3 Seniors over 60
Admission fees for family shows:
$2 for everyone
Note: we do not accept credit cards, Rowan cards, or BoroBucks!
Tickets for all shows go on sale half an hour before the show. We do not sell advance tickets before that time, nor do we take reservations. We will sell up to six tickets to one person if others in her party are not present.
1. There is no late seating! After the show has started, we do not allow people to come in, for several reasons. (a) It's not safe: in the very dark environment, it's easy to stumble into equipment or chairs, possibly doing injury to you (and to the equipment!). (b) It's disruptive to those who are already seated, if latecomers speak to one another, make other noises, or stand up in the way of seated people. Often latecomers don't even realize the theater is already filled with people, and don't realize how disruptive they are being. (c) If a latecomer leaves the outer doors open, or turns on a flashlight or cell phone to light his way, it destroys the dark adaptation the seated audience has been going through for several minutes.
2. For the same reasons, the doors lock on the way out. If you must leave the theater for any reason, you won't be able to re-enter. Hey, the shows aren't THAT long! And the rest rooms are available before the show!
3. We strongly discourage attendance by children under six years of age, except at family shows. Such youngsters often do not react well to the dark planetarium environment and the theatrical nature of most shows. For many shows we don't recommend bringing children less than 8 or even 10 years old, though we will allow slightly younger visitors. We do a variety of shows for children on school field trips during the week: once a week we like to give adults a chance to see a show peacefullly!
We strongly suggest that, if your child is likely not to enjoy one of the adult shows, you consider bringing him or her to one of our family shows instead.
4. We suggest you do not get up and walk around during a show, for the same reasons mentioned in number 1. If it's an emergency, we'll tell you that rest rooms are located at the top of the stairs outside the theater; but remember that the doors lock, so you won't be able to get back in. If you're tempted to block the outer door open, we'll ask again: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not open both doors at the same time! This lets bright light into a theater full of people whose eyes were adapted to very dark conditions: bright light can be almost painful, and it takes several minutes for everyone's eyes to recover their dark adaptation.
5. Please don't open any food or drink, including water. Our theater is one of the nicest-looking on the East Coast, and we want to keep it that way.
6. Like most theaters, we ask that you shut down your cell phone. In most theaters, the main problem is noise during the performance. In the planetarium, however, the problem is LIGHT! Cell phones cast light up onto the dome, destroying the illusion of the night sky we're trying to create. YOU won't notice it, because you're looking downwards; but your neighbors will get annoyed, probably at the planetarium presenter, when they see a moving blob of light on the dome.
7. The most important rule: you're not allowed to go to sleep during a show...