A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

The Cosmos & Beyond

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.

What Planetarium Show Should I Book?
Kids enjoying a show in the planetarium

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.

Live Shows

The Sky Tonight

Grades K-12 (30-35 minutes)

The Sky Tonight

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)

First Stars

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.

The Christmas Star

Grades K+ (25 minutes)

The Christmas Star

What could be the Christmas Star that the Magi followed? A Supernova? A nova? A planetary conjunction? A comet? A meteor shower? Follow Leo and his robot to try and solve the ancient mystery about the Star of Bethlehem! A fulldome planetarium show for a family audience.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure

Grades Pre K-2 (25 minutes)

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure

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!
Ed. Guide

The Little Star That Could (OC)

Grades K-3 (37 minutes)

The Little Star That Could (OC)

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!

Grades 3-6 Ed. Guide
K-2 Ed. Guide

Rusty Rocket's Last Blast (OC)

Grades 1-5 (39 minutes)

Rusty Rocket's Last Blast (OC)

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.

Ed. Guide

Losing the Dark (OC)

Grades 2+ (6 minutes)

Losing the Dark (OC)

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.

Earth, Moon & Sun (OC)

Grades 2-5 (27 minutes)

Earth, Moon & Sun (OC)

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.

Grades 3-6 Ed. Guide

Cosmix

Grades 2-6 (14 minutes)

Cosmix

Have you ever wondered how the astronauts do their job? After watching the Cosmix show it will be absolutely clear to you! But hold tight, it will be a crazy ride. You will find out what a space flight looks like and how to prepare for it. You will jump from a spinning centrifuge straight into a cosmic rocket. And where it will take you? Why, to the International Space Station! But worry not, we won’t bore you with technical details. On the contrary, the practice is all that matters! You will learn to sleep in space, to cook cosmic food, to use a cosmic toilet, and—just to be sure—to wash yourselves properly. You won’t miss a grand finale, though. And by that, we mean a nerve-wracking return back to Earth in a red-hot spaceship cabin! Buckle up!

Journey to Mars (OC)

Grades 3+ (10 minutes)

Journey to Mars (OC)

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!

Two Small Pieces of Glass (OC)

Grades 3+ (25 minutes)

Two Small Pieces of Glass (OC)

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.

Dawn of the Space Age (OC)

Grades 4+ (41 minutes)

Dawn of the Space Age (OC)

From the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights — be immersed and overwhelmed with this most 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 (OC)

Grades 4+ (31 Minutes)

Extrasolar Planets: Discovering New Worlds (OC)

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 (OC)

Grades 4+ (37 minutes)

Nine Planets and Counting (OC)

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 (OC)

Grades 4+ (36 minutes)

Season of Light (OC)

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

To Space & Back (OC)

Grades 4+ (25 minutes)

To Space & Back (OC)

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, describing 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!

MarsQuest

Grades 5+ (40 minutes)

MarsQuest

MarsQuest is a chronicle tracing our centuries-long cultural and scientific fascination with the planet Mars. Set in a theatrical style “three-act” form with an epilogue, it weaves a satisfying narrative of what Mars means to humanity. Classic show produced for fulldome in 2007. Narrated by Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean-Luc Picard). Produced by Loch Ness Productions in Nederland, Colorado.

Cosmic Colors: An Adventure along the Spectrum (OC)

Grades 5+ (32 minutes)

Cosmic Colors: An Adventure along the Spectrum (OC)

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)

Infinity Express

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.

Mayan Archaeoastronomy

Grades 5+ (20 minutes)

Mayan Archaeoastronomy

“Mayan Archaeoastronomy: Observers of the Universe” intertwines science and mythology to take the viewer on a poetic journey through how the Mayans have viewed and understood the Universe throughout their history. The visuals are stunning, giving the viewer the impression of being inside a beautifully stylistic painting. This artistic interpretation of the Universe makes for a journey that will not be forgotten. Also in Spanish.

Mexica Archaeoastronomy (OC)

Grades 5+ (20 minutes)

Mexica Archaeoastronomy (OC)

“Mexica Archaeoastronomy: Between Space and Time” illustrates the important role of astronomical observations in the evolution of pre-Hispanic cultures in central Mexico. The Mexicans used the calendrical and astronomical knowledge of previous cultures to found the capital of their empire, Tenochtitlan. Vibrant colors, shapes, and sounds transport the viewer to a culture that, to this day, still lives on in the hearts of the Mexican people. OC Also in Spanish.

Solar Quest

Grades 5+ (12 minutes)

Solar Quest

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.

Spirits from the Sky, Thunder on the Land

Grades 5+ (33 minutes)

Spirits from the Sky, Thunder on the Land

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.

Seeing (OC)

Grades 5+ (25 minutes)

Seeing (OC)

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 hemispheric 2D and 3D animations and 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, which will be used to create a story of a photons’ journey through the eye and its conversion to an electro-chemical impulse that then travels 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.

Sunstruck!

Grades 5-8 (21 minutes)

Sunstruck!

Heliophysics is the main component of 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.

From Earth to the Universe (OC, Spanish OC)

Grades 6+ (32 minutes)

From Earth to the Universe (OC, Spanish OC)

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. Also available in Spanish!

Black Holes (10th Anniversary Edition) (OC)

Grades 6+ (35 minutes)

Black Holes (10th Anniversary Edition) (OC)

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!

Europe to the Stars (OC)

Grades 7+ (31 minutes)

Europe to the Stars (OC)

Europe to the Stars takes the viewer on an epic journey behind the scenes at the most productive ground-based observatory in the world, revealing the science, the history, the technology, and the people. Discover the European Southern Observatory in a story of designing, building, and operating the most powerful ground-based telescopes on the planet.

Phantom of the Universe (OC)

Grades 7+ (30 minutes)

Phantom of the Universe (OC)

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 full dome planetarium show designed to immerse audiences in the search for dark matter. A collaboration of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, University of Texas at Arlington, Michigan State University, IFIC at University of Valencia, as well as other institutions. It is narrated by Oscar-winning actress, Tilda Swinton.

The Sun, Our Living Star (OC)

Grades 7+ (25 minutes)

The Sun, Our Living Star (OC)

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.

Big Astronomy (OC)

Grades 7+ (28 minutes)

Big Astronomy (OC)

Big Astronomy shares the story of the people and places who make big astronomy and big science happen. The show takes visitors to the extreme sites where astronomy happens in the most extreme environments and with some of the most interesting people.  

This show is also available in Spanish and with Spanish OC

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Grades 9+ (30 minutes)

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

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 (OC)

Grades 9+ (20 minutes)

DARK: The Movie (OC)

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.

The Hot and Energetic Universe (OC)

Grades 9+ (30 minutes)

The Hot and Energetic Universe (OC)

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 this radiation, in the form of x-rays and gamma rays, 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! 

Other Activities

Solar Observing

Grades 4+ (approximately 20 minutes)

Solar Observing

Participants safely view our nearest star, the Sun, in two different ways: through a telescope equipped with a white-light solar filter (revealing sunspots, if any, on the disk), as well as 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.

Seasonal Star Gazing

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.