Planetariums And Education (2)There can be no doubt that the space race, renewed interest in planetariums. Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, houses the Ott Planetarium in Room 203 of the Lind Lecture Hall, founded in 1969, and in 2006 mounted its first Student Project on “The Great Space Race.” Lasting 40 minutes and aimed at anyone aged 10 or over, it described its topic as “U.S. and Russian Space Exploration, from the beginning of the Space Age, to the International Space Station.”

This was not, however, the first or the most obvious manifestation of the space race in planetarium history. Some might think that a program to install over 1,200 planetariums in US high schools to stimulate interest in space was a little over the top. However, Japan – which at the time had no ambitions in the area of space exploration – put a planetarium in every elementary school in the country.

The UK’s National Space Centre is education-oriented and, as well as hosting educational programs in its own planetarium, has developed the StarDome Portable Planetarium which is inflatable and, at 6 meters in diameter and about 4 meters high, fits easily into the majority of school halls and gyms. It can accommodate 30 children or 25 adults at one time and the usual program consists of four sessions of the same show, each lasting 50 minutes, in a single day’s visit. The shows are not all about astronomy; the current offering includes:

The Life Of Stars

The life of a star from birth to death; different types of stars etc.

Earth, Moon And Sun

How the three entities interact; why there are seasons; the moon’s changing profile during each lunar month.

The Planets And Stars

An exploration of the Solar System.

Egypt

What ancient Egyptians believed about the cosmos.

Worldwide Star Stories

Star mythology in civilizations around the world.