Harry C. Vaughan Planeterium

The Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium at the University of Wyoming.

Are you tired of languishing “Earth side,” and need a break to float in outer space for an hour or two? Are you looking for a reason to connect with the wide and mysterious universe? Look no further than here in Laramie, at the University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium. They have released their schedule for May programming.

Scheduled highlights in May include a talk by Jessica Sutter, a UW PhD student in physics, who will share her research on star formation in nearby galaxies. There will also be a program showcasing the solar eclipse that amazed and astounded the people of Wyoming in 2017.

“The highlight of astronomical activity for this month will be a total lunar eclipse visible in the early morning hours—3:45-5:30 a.m.—of May 26,” said Max Gilbraith, the planetarium’s coordinator. Over the course of several hours, the full moon will pass into Earth’s shadow, causing it to darken and subsequently redden as the red component of sunlight bends through the Earth’s atmosphere to reach the lunar surface. Although they don’t have any programming scheduled for the lunar eclipse, Gilbraith said that they are hoping to receive enough community interest to open the observatory for the event.

For the rest of the month of May, a film and special live talk for audiences will be featured each week. Seating is limited, so tickets will be by reservation only. To get tickets or receive more information about programs, email planetarium@uwyo.edu or call and leave a voicemail at 307-766-6506. Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for students and those under the age of 18. The planetarium is located in the basement of the UW Physical Sciences building.

The May 2021 schedule is as follows:

• Full-dome movie: “Dawn of the Space Age,” Saturday, May 1, 2 p.m. From the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights, the audience will be immersed and overwhelmed with this most accurate historic reconstruction of man’s first steps into space.

• Full-dome movie: “Cosmic Origins Spectrograph,” Saturday, May 8, 2 p.m. This 30-minute film highlights the current research of Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, the last instrument installed by the NASA astronauts. COS allows an unprecedented view into the vast spaces between galaxies that surround the Milky Way. The presentation will be followed by a live lecture, question-and-answer session and a star talk.

• “Wyoming Skies,” Tuesdays, May 11 and 25, 7 p.m. This program provides an exploration of the stars, constellations, planets and other celestial phenomena visible from Laramie for the season.

• “Star Formation in Local Galaxies,” Friday, May 14, 7 p.m. Special guest Jessica Sutter, a UW Ph.D. student in physics, will use data from the KINGFISH (Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: A Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel) to explain how galaxies grow by looking at newborn stars in both nearby and extremely distant galaxies.

• Full-dome movie: “SEEING!,” Saturday, May 15, 2 p.m. This film follows a photon’s creation and journey across the galaxy to a young stargazer’s eye. The viewer follows the photon into the girl’s eye, learning the structures of the eye and their functions, before taking a ride on the optic nerve.

• “Great American Eclipse of 2017,” Friday, May 21, 7 p.m. Relive and celebrate the eclipse of 2017 that passed through Wyoming. This program will share full-dome images of the eclipse captured from the ground and air, and explore the science of eclipses.

• Full-dome movie: “Back to the Moon for Good,” Saturday, May 22, 2 p.m. This film opens with the first era of space exploration in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Viewers will learn what that era of landers and orbiters taught about the moon, including the discovery of its origin, composition, structure and the accessibility of raw materials on its surface. The Google Lunar XPRIZE, designed to democratize space and create new opportunities for eventual human and robotic presence on the moon, also will be covered.

• “The Stellar Graveyard: From White Dwarfs to Supermassive Black Holes,” Friday, May 28, 7 p.m. This program provides an exploration of the beautiful, bizarre and potentially dangerous remains of stars across our galaxy and the universe. The program will cover the innovative techniques to observe them and the mind-blowing physics involved.

• Full-dome movie: “IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System,” Saturday, May 29, 2 p.m. Join scientists who are investigating the boundary between our solar system and the rest of the galaxy. This film follows the creation of NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). The audience will get an in-depth look at the mission and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our solar system’s boundary.

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