MSU’s hidden gem, Abram’s Planetarium, is out of this world

The planetarium has always been my favorite place on campus, so I was shocked when I found that many MSU students didn’t even know it existed.

As a permanent resident of East Lansing, I’ve been going to the Abrams Planetarium since I was a kid and never lost interest. I’ve always loved looking at the pictures in the lobby, shopping for items in the store, walking through the glow-in-the-dark tunnel, watching the shows, and then staying to talk about the night sky.

The highlight of my planetarium trips have always been the shows. Each month, Abrams Planetarium selects two new shows for the public, usually one being a show for children and the other for the general public. And the best part: tickets are only $5.

You might be thinking, “Why would I want to watch a 30-minute documentary on my Friday night? But the planetarium shows are far from boring. The visuals are amazing, often they make me feel like I’m floating in space or traveling through a wormhole. Then there’s the storytelling, which is always interesting.

After the show, a presenter talks about the night sky, which involves putting the night sky on the screen and pointing out constellations, planets, and other celestial phenomena. After that, each show ends with a visual that can only be described as a simulation of a roller coaster in space.

So why is it that even though the planetarium offers a visceral experience, it completely slips under the radar of MSU students?

Freshman astrophysics student Alexandru Daraban, presenter at the Planetarium, said that since MSU focuses so much on athletics, places like the planetarium go unnoticed. Additionally, the planetarium is much more active on its FaceBook page than on its Instagram, which attracts an older population and fewer students.

Daraban said that when they receive student visitors, they are mostly natural science or engineering students.

So my recommendation is that for your next date, group outing or if you just have a Friday or Saturday night to yourself, check out the Abrams Planetarium. You might just learn something new.

“I think people should come because of the things you learn,” Daraban said. “Space is so interesting and cool. In space, we don’t know anything. We don’t even know what gravity is, basically. We just know a few things. We don’t know what happens in a black hole. We don’t know anything about dark matter, whether it exists or not. There’s so much we don’t know about, and starting with a planetarium, especially if you’re interested, is a really good place to start.

Visit the Abrams Planetarium website to view schedules and purchase tickets.

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Arline J. Mercier