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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. The Museum uses hands on learning activities in all of our school programs.

Our planetarium gives students an opportunity to travel through the solar system, see the stars being born, and new planets being discovered. They can see the space technology you are talking about in your classroom first hand. Plus, there is no extra charge to see a planetarium show when you are visiting 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 402-461-2399 or bkvetensky@hastingsmuseum.org.

OC = Open Captions. If OC is at the end of the description, captions of the shows narration can be turned on and seen by everyone in the chamber. This is for patrons that are hearing impaired.

Solar Observing

Solar Observing

Grades 4-12 (approximately 20 minutes)
Participants safely view the Sun in three different ways: with the unaided eye, through a telescope equipped with a white-light solar filter, and a hydrogen-alpha filter. The outside temperature must be at least 30° F. This activity is recommended for groups of 20 people or less.

Live 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-2 (25 minutes)
One World One Sky Education Guide
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. Learn about the Big Dipper, the North Star, the Sun, and the Moon.
Available in Spanish upon request! Disponible en español bajo petición!

The Little Star That Could

Grades K-3 (37 minutes)
Grade 3-6 Education Guide | K-2 Education Guide

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 (39 minutes)
Rusty Rocket’s Last Blast Education Guide
After decades of teaching the basics of rocket physics, Rusty Rocket has decided this will be his last blast. He has big 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. It will focus 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 (27 minutes)
Earth, Moon & Sun Education Guide
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. OC

Losing the Dark NEW!

Grades 2+ (6 minutes)
This can be added on to any full length planetarium show!
Starry skies are a vanishing treasure because light pollution is washing away our view of the cosmos! Losing the Dark is a “public service announcement” planetarium show, as it introduces and illustrates some of the issues regarding light pollution and suggests three simple actions people can take to help mitigate it. OC

Flight Adventures NEW!

Grades 3-8 (20 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! 

Journey to Mars NEW!

Grades 3+ (10 minutes)
This can be added on to any full length planetarium show!
Are you looking for ways to prepare your students for STEM-related career opportunities in the future? Do you want to spark their interest in pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation? Right now, NASA’s fleet of Mars robotic explorers is paving the way for human exploration of the solar system in the coming decades. Have your students join NASA in preparing for a monumental journey of a lifetime — to Mars! OC

Two Small Pieces of Glass

Grades 3+ (25 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. OC

Back to the Moon for Good

Grades 4+ (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.

Dawn of the Space Age

Grades 4+ (41 minutes)
Dawn of the Space Age Education Guide
See the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik, and magnificent lunar landings. Join privately operated space flights to be immersed and overwhelmed with this accurate historic reconstruction of man’s first steps into space. Who were these men and women who took part in these death-defying endeavors? Witness their drive, their passion, and their perseverance to explore… in Dawn of the Space Age.

Extrasolar Planets: Discovering New Worlds

Grades 4+ (31 Minutes)
We live on a small planet that revolves around a star that is no different in size, luminosity, or location, than any other. It is just one among many. Astronomers today are using specialized equipment to observe stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, to search for a star that might have planets orbiting it. For now we know of only one planet that has life on it … Earth. Yet astronomers are working around the clock to find even the smallest sign of life. Even if we only discover microorganisms, it would still be a monumental discovery. This discovery would prove once and for all … we are not alone.

Nine Planets and Counting

Grades 4-12 (37 minutes)
Nine Planets & Counting Education Guide
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. OC

Season of Light

Grades 4+ (36 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. OC

To Space & Back

Grades 4+ (25 minutes)
To Space and Back Education Guide
To Space & Back takes audiences on an incredible journey from the far reaches of our known universe to our own planet. It is an extraordinary story of human ingenuity and incredible engineering. This show describes how the technology that transports us through space is paving the way for the devices and apps we use every day. What is happening above is coming back down to Earth!

Mayan Archaeoastronomy NEW!

Grades 5-12 (20 minutes)
Through impressive immersive scenarios, “Mexica Archaeoastronomy: between space and time” illustrates the important role played by astronomical observation for the evolution of pre-Hispanic cultures in central Mexico. The Mexicas used the calendrical and astronomical knowledge inherited by their predecessor cultures to found the capital of their empire: Tenochtitlan. Vibrant colors, shapes and sounds transport the viewer to one of the most important cultures that, to this day, still lives in the heart and skin of the Mexican people.
Available in Spanish upon request! Disponible en español bajo petición!

Mexica Archaeoastronomy NEW!

Grades 5-12 (20 minutes)
Through impressive immersive scenarios, “Mexica Archaeoastronomy: between space and time” illustrates the important role played by astronomical observation for the evolution of pre-Hispanic cultures in central Mexico. The Mexicans used the calendrical and astronomical knowledge inherited by their predecessor cultures to found the capital of their empire: Tenochtitlan. Vibrant colors, shapes and sounds transport the viewer to one of the most important cultures that, to this day, still lives in the heart and skin of the Mexican people.
Available in Spanish upon request! Disponible en español bajo petición!


Grades 5-8 (22 minutes)
Sunstruck Education Guide
Heliophysics is the main component of the Sunstruck! It includes information on the sun, parts/layers, space weather, and its impact on Earth. We used several NASA heliophysics missions including SOHO, IRIS, and SDO. The audience should gain an enhanced understanding of the Sun and how it impacts our world. OC

Black Holes (10 Anniversary Edition)

Grades 6+ (35 minutes)
Black Holes Education Guide
Some of the most mysterious objects known, black holes defy the imagination. Explore how black holes form, their strange properties, and what exactly would happen if you got too close! OC

Cosmic Colors: An Adventure Along the Spectrum

Grades 5+ (32 minutes)
Cosmic Colors will take you on a wondrous journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Discover the many reasons for color—like why the sky is blue and why Mars is red. Take a tour within a plant leaf and journey inside the human eye.  Investigate x-rays by voyaging to a monstrous black hole and then back at your doctor’s office. You will even see the actual color of a dinosaur–based on recent evidence.

Infinity Express

Grades 5+ (25 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.


Grades 5-12 (27 minutes)
Seeing! Education Guide
Ride a photon across the galaxy to your mind’s eye and experience how we see.  “SEEING!” 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, prior to taking a ride on the optic nerve. Seeing uses 2D and 3D animations as well as video to teach how human vision works. Imagery from all over the world including humanity, landscapes, skyscapes, wildlife and of space will be the backdrop for photo-realistic animations. These animation will create the story of a photons’ journey through the eye and its conversion to an electro-chemical impulse. Travel the neuro pathways of the brain to the various centers that create the image the brain sees. Narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. OC

Solar Quest

Grades 5-12 (12 minutes)
This short feature demonstrates how the Sun and Earth are interconnected and that we are “Living with a Star”. View solar phenomena such as fusion and light energy, as well as solar surface features and events. Granules, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections are highlighted. OC

Spirits from the Sky, Thunder on the Land

Grades 5+ (33 minutes)
Spirits from the Sky Education Guide
Take an in-depth look at the Pawnee nation, which thrived in parts of Kansas and Nebraska from the late 1600s to the 1750s. Students will learn how the Pawnee organized their calendar according to which stars were visible in the sky, and hear the Pawnee creation legend. OC

From Earth to the Universe NEW!

Grades 6+ (32 minutes)
The night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has inspired awe and been the subject of campfire stories, and ancient myths for as long as there have been people. A desire to comprehend the Universe may well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. Yet only recently have we truly begun to grasp our place in the vast cosmos. To learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes, we invite you to experience From Earth to the Universe. OC

The Hot and Energetic Universe NEW!

Grades 7+ (30 minutes)
The Hot and Energetic Universe” presents the fascinating world of high energy astrophysics. High energy astrophysics plays a key role in understanding the universe, as these radiations reveal the processes in the hot and violent universe. High energy astrophysics probes hot gas in clusters of galaxies, which are the most massive objects in the universe. It also probes hot gas accreting around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. Finally, high energy radiation provides important information about our own galaxy, neutron stars, supernova remnants and stars like our Sun which emit copious amounts of high-energy radiation. Come and learn about your hot and energetic universe! OC

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. OC

Phantom of the Universe NEW!

Grades 7+ (30 minutes)
From the journey of protons racing through the world’s largest particle collider in Europe to up-close views of the Big Bang and emergent cosmos, Phantom of the Universe is a new fulldome planetarium show designed to immerse audiences in the search for dark matter. A collaboration of Lawrence Berkeley National LabUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonMichigan State UniversityIFIC at University of Valencia, as well as other institutions. It is narrated by Oscar-winning actress, Tilda Swinton. OC

The Sun, Our Living Star NEW!

Grades 7+ (25 minutes)
The Sun has shone on our world for four and a half billion years. The light that warms our skin today has been felt by every person who has ever lived. It is our nearest star and our planet’s powerhouse, the source of the energy that drives our winds, our weather and all life. The passage of the Sun’s fiery disc across the sky — day by day, month by month — was the only way to keep track of time for countless past civilizations. Don’t be fooled by the terminology; although it is a typical dwarf star, the Sun consumes 600 million tons of hydrogen each second and is 500 times as massive as all the planets combined. Discover the secrets of our star in this planetarium show and experience never-before-seen images of the Sun’s violent surface in immersive full dome format.

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Grades 9-12 (30 minutes)
This show covers the basics of spectroscopy at a fairly high level, and touches on the processing of galactic and extragalactic gas. Other topics include the use of quasars as background light sources, cosmic evolution, and the development of the large scale structure of the universe.

DARK, The Movie

Grades 9-12 (20 minutes)
Explore 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. OC

Seasonal Star Gazing

Full show 14 minutes | Mini show 7 minutes
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.