Musical Light Shows Return to UW Planetarium in February | News

January 27, 2022

The planetary nebulae and other bizarre but beautiful objects that decorate the skies will be explored during the “Stellar Graveyard” program on Friday, February 11 at 7 p.m. at the University of Wyoming’s Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium. (Photo by UW Planetarium)

A bit of psychedelic indie rock and progressive metal will turn up the volume at the Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium at the University of Wyoming in February.

“Let’s get back to our diverse lineup of shows, on Saturday nights, when we have new musical programs that should excite and entertain audiences on the second and last Saturdays of February,” says Max Gilbraith, planetarium coordinator.

Additionally, Gilbraith says the planetarium will bring back popular Friday night live programs on the search for extraterrestrial life, the Stellar Graveyard, the new James Webb Space Telescope and black holes. Saturday afternoons will feature a new rotation of films featuring similar topics with shortened live presentations.

For tickets or to receive more program information, email [email protected] or leave a voicemail message and a callback phone number at (307) 766-6506. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for students, seniors, veterans, first responders, and under 18s. Places are free for children under 5 years old.

Reservations or pre-purchases are not required and walk-ins are welcome. Tickets can be purchased online with a credit card, reserved by email or voicemail, or purchased at the start of the show. Cash or check is accepted at the door. The planetarium, which can accommodate 58 people, is located in the basement of the Physical Sciences Pavilion. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis outside of ADA/wheelchair designated seating.

To pay for tickets with a credit card, go to For a group larger than six, email the planetarium for a private show at Tickets for private shows are the same as for public programs.

A film and a special live lecture for the public will be presented each week. All programs last approximately one hour. If time allows, part of the show may also focus on a live sky tour or additional information related to the subject of the film.

The February schedule is:

— “Search for ET”, Friday, February 4, 7 p.m. Are we alone in the universe? Astronomers use telescopes from the ground and space to try to locate signs of life on other planets. Landers, rovers, and probes visit the scattered planets and moons of our system to hunt aliens.

— Full-screen movie: “Distant Worlds: Alien Life?”, Saturday, February 5, 2:00 p.m. This film explores one of humanity’s most enduring questions: Are we alone? For millennia, our ancestors watched the stars, wondering about the origin and nature of what they saw. Knowing that the universe is a vast place filled with billions of stars and planets, these questions still arise, with Earth being the only planet known to be inhabited.

— “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesday, February 8, 7 p.m. The program features an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena visible from Wyoming for the season.

— “Stellar Graveyard,” Friday, February 11, 7 p.m. This program explores white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, novas, supernovae, planetary nebulae, and other strange but beautiful objects that adorn the skies.

— Full-dome film: “Dark Matter Mystery”, Saturday, February 12, 2 p.m. What holds the galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the universe? What makes the universe look like it does today? About a quarter of the universe is filled with a mysterious glue: dark matter.

— “Liquid Sky: Psychedelic Indie Rock,” Saturday, February 12, 7 p.m. Enjoy a personalized playlist of “out of this world” music from artists including Tame Impala, MGMT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cage the Elephant STRFKR in 5.1 surround sound. The planetarium sky at 4K resolution melts into a canvas of color, pattern and movement through the use of cutting-edge music visualization software and live VJ talent.

– “James Webb Space Telescope Update”, Friday, February 18, 7 p.m. The James Webb Space Telescope is in its final destination beyond the moon’s orbit and will soon begin transmitting data. This program will review the epic journey to send the most powerful space telescope ever built into space and its mission to reveal the secrets of the cosmos.

— Full-screen film: “Europe towards the stars”, Saturday 19 February, 2 p.m. This film takes viewers on an epic journey behind the scenes of the world’s most productive Earth observatory, the European Southern Observatory — revealing science, history, technology and people. This film focuses on the essential aspects of an astronomical observatory while providing a broader view of how astronomy is conducted.

— “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesday, February 22, 7 p.m. The program features an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena visible from Wyoming for the season.

— “Black Holes,” Friday, February 25, 7 p.m. When Einstein first proposed the theory of relativity, many scoffed at one of the consequences: a region of gravity so powerful that not even light, the fastest thing in the world universe, could escape. Using cutting-edge observational techniques, these enigmatic anomalies have been discovered across the Milky Way and other galaxies.

— Full-dome film: “Hot and Energetic Universe”, Saturday, February 26, 2 p.m. This documentary, with the use of immersive visualizations and real images, investigates the achievements of modern astronomy; the most advanced terrestrial and orbital observatories; the basic principles of electromagnetic radiation; and natural phenomena related to high energy astrophysics.

— “Liquid Sky: Progressive Metal,” Saturday, February 26, 7 p.m. Enjoy a personalized playlist of punchy, technical music from artists like Baroness, Gojira, Mastodon, Opeth, and Periphery in 5.1 surround sound. The 4K resolution planetarium sky melts into a canvas of color, pattern and movement with state-of-the-art music visualization software and live VJ talent.

Arline J. Mercier