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In the Hastings Museum Planetarium you’ll experience a sunset – and sunrise – with a terrific show in between!

The Hastings Museum prides itself in being up to date on the current teaching policies, Nebraska state standards, and including hands on learning activities that are difficult to do in a classroom setting in all of our school programs.

Our planetarium gives students an opportunity to travel through the solar system, see the stars being born, new planets being discovered, and learn about the space technology you have talks about in your classroom first hand. Plus, there is no extra charge to see a planetarium show when you arevisiting the museum!

Note that the Planetarium’s seating capacity is 47 people, so if you have a larger group two shows will be necessary.

For details and reservations, contact Visitor Services at at 402-461-4629, 800-508-4629 or visitorservices@hastingsmuseum.org.

Sky Shows

The Sky Tonight – Grades K-12 (30-45 minutes)
Our version of the traditional planetarium show: a live, interactive tour of the current sky. Your show presenter points out the bright stars, constellations, planets, and any unusual sights that await the stargazer. Questions from the audience are encouraged after the show. This show is adapted for different grades and levels of interest.

First Stars – Grade Pre-K (about 15 minutes)
A shortened version of The Sky Tonight for very young sky watchers introduces the planetarium and its starry sky. This show begins with a sunset and ends with sunrise.

Full Dome Shows

Full dome shows are pre-recorded and include a video image covering nearly the entire dome. A short Sky Tonight Full Dome may be added at the close of the full dome show if desired.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure – Grades Pre K-3 (25 minutes)
Explore the night sky with your friends from Sesame Street. Follow along with Big Bird, Elmo, and their friend from China, Hu Hu Zhu, as they take you on a journey of discovery to learn about the Big Dipper, the North Star, the Sun, and the Moon.

New Horizons for a Little Planet – Grades K-2 (6 minutes)
New Horizons for a Little Planet is a lighthearted introduction to NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Launched in 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft is scheduled to fly by Pluto and its moons in July of 2015. The purpose of the program is to introduce planetarium visitors to the mission prior to its arrival at Pluto.

The Little Star That Could – Grades K-3 (37 minutes)
This show tells the story of a star searching for his planets. Along the way, the Little Star discovers how stars are born, how stars die, and why stars are different colors. Near the end of his search, the Little Star finds out about planets. An old favorite that looks as good as ever in full dome!

Rusty Rocket’s Last Blast – Grades 1-5 (35 minutes)
After decades of teaching the basics of rocket physics, Rusty Rocket has decided this will be his last blast, and he already has plans for how he will spend his free time. Still there is one final mission to command: an introductory tour of the solar system for a new class of rocket rookies focusing on the wide variety of planetary environments. Along the way, we learn Rusty is related to every famous spacecraft to explore the solar system. He also emphasizes the immense distances between the planets using cars and jets for comparison.

Earth, Moon & Sun – Grades 2-5 (30 minutes)
This full dome program explores the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun with the help of Coyote, a fun character adapted from Native American oral traditions. Why does the Sun rise and set? What’s fusion and solar energy? Examine the Moon’s orbit, craters, phases and eclipses. Also take a look at space travel to the Moon – and beyond.

Flight Adventures – Grades 3-8 (30 minutes)
Discover the science of flight through the eyes of a young girl and her grandfather as they explore how birds, kites, planes, and models fly. Learn about the history and future of flight and how NASA is discovering new and safer ways to travel with the help of future engineers and aviators – like you!

Two Small Pieces of Glass – Grades 3-12 (35 minutes)
Join a modern star party and discover the wonders that even a small amateur telescope can reveal. See how Galileo Galilei built a “spyglass” and first aimed it to the heavens over 400 years ago.

Back to the Moon for Good – Grades 4-12 (25 minutes)
Immerse yourself in a race to return to the Moon 40 years after the historic Apollo landings. See how a competition among privately funded international teams is ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. Learn about the Moon’s resources and discover what humanity’s future on the Moon might hold.

Nine Planets and Counting – Grades 4-12 (40 minutes)
There are currently eight official planets in our Solar System. But, what exactly is a planet? Discover the answer to this question with a journey through the Solar System, visiting each planet as well as other objects in our solar neighborhood. This show was produced in 2006 just before Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status.

Season of Light – Grades 4-12 (40 minutes)
Formerly ‘Tis the Season, this popular holiday show has been renamed for full dome. Here we discuss the Winter Solstice and the origins of holiday traditions, concluding with a possible explanation for the famous Star of Bethlehem.

Black Holes – Grades 5-12 (30 minutes)
Some of the most bizarre, enigmatic objects known, black holes defy the imagination. In this show, we explore how black holes form, their strange properties, and what exactly would happen if one got too close! Very highly recommended.

STARS – Grades 5-12 (27 minutes)
Some stars last a billion years while others burn only for a short time. New ones are born every day. Experience the awesome beauty and destructive power of stars.

Infinity Express – Grades 5-12 (30 minutes)
A remarkable blend of science, art, and entertainment, this show dramatically communicates the latest breakthroughs in our quest to understand the universe. Some of the best Hubble Space Telescope images are also shown in a fascinating gallery view.

IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System – Grades 7-12 (30 minutes)
Join scientists who are investigating the boundary between our Solar System and the rest of our galaxy. This show follows the creation of NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). Audiences 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.

DARK – Grades 9-12 (20 minutes)
This full dome show explains and explores the nature of Dark Matter, the missing 80% of the mass of the Universe. Finding answers will help us understand why the Universe is as it is, where it came from, and how it has evolved over billions of years.

Other Activities

Solar Observing – Grades 4-12 (approximately 20 minutes)
Participants safely view our nearest star, the Sun, in three different ways: with the unaided eye, through a telescope equipped with a white-light solar filter (revealing sunspots, if any, on the disk), then finally through a hydrogen-alpha filter, allowing us to see the spectacular prominences along the Sun’s limb. (The outside temperature must be at least 30° F for the h-alpha filter to operate properly). This activity is recommended for groups of 20 people or less.

Starry Night Sky Theater
These educational videos are shown in the planetarium dome. They dramatically and realistically illustrate astronomical phenomena guided by top planetary scientists. See a whole show or just a chapter. You can also add it to a full dome show or The SkyTonight.

  • Earth Zone — Grades 3-12 (31 minutes)
    Earth’s Moon takes a detailed look at the Moon’s tug, craters and more (13 minutes). Finding Spacecraft includes satellites and space stations (9 minutes). Meteorites – Hard Evidence discusses the difference between meteoroids, meteorites, and more (9 minutes).
  • Planet Zone — Grades 6-12 (41 minutes)
    Inner Planets covers Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars (14 minutes). Outer Planets covers Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and unlucky comets (17 minutes). Oddballs covers Pluto, Binary Kuipers, Sedna, and more (10 minutes).

Seasonal Star Gazing
The Sky Tonight in Full Dome is a seasonal sky show discussing the highlights of the current season: Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer. It discusses the issue of light pollution and how it effects our view of the night sky. It is offered in two formats: the full show and mini show. The full show averages 14 minutes and the mini show averages 7 minutes.

Sky Tellers: The Myths, Magic, and Mysteries of the Universe — Grades K-12
Sky Tellers is a collection of ten Native American and science story couplets. Classes can view one segment per visit. Running times range from 12 to 15 minutes for each segment. The first part of the presentation is the story accompanied only by the planetarium star field, slowly moving over time. This allows children to use their own imaginations to their fullest capacity as the stories were originally intended. The second part of the presentation contains visuals with the scientific explanations.

Segments Include:

  • Day and Night
  • Seasons
  • Sun
  • Moon Phases
  • Meteors
  • Stars
  • Galaxies
  • Constellations
  • Polaris
  • Solar System



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