Students return to planetarium this month, new public show offered

For the first time in 20 months, the TCOE Peña Planetarium and Science Center is reopening its doors to the public. The center welcomes its first students this month, and already has bookings from schools in Tulare, Kings, and Fresno counties.

Also in October, the planetarium resumes public shows with the first showings on October 22. The first show, Secrets of Gravity – In the Footsteps of Albert Einstein, begins at 6:00 p.m. There will be a second, new show, Space Opera, premiering at 7:00 p.m. Space Opera will only be available as a public show.

In Space Opera, viewers will explore our solar system as a passenger aboard a futuristic spacecraft, while listening to Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Op. 32. During the journey, visitors will discover the historical significance and art related to each planet. Space Opera is a unique artistic, philosophic, scientific, and cinematic planetarium experience. The show is 53 minutes and suggested for sixth grade and up, but all are welcome.

Admission is $4 per person for public shows and tickets are available at 5:00 p.m. at the planetarium box office on the date of the show. However, online ticket sales will be available soon. Attendees are advised to be prompt since shows often sell out and start precisely at the designated time. Entry is not allowed once a show has started.

Visitors to the planetarium will also notice a new entrance that was constructed to showcase astronomy images in a billboard-sized, lit enclosure. The first image is of NGC 6559, a cloud of gas and dust located at a distance of about 5000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius.

There is also a built-in display showing welcome messages for visiting schools, show schedules, and astronomy news and information.

For more information about the planetarium’s public shows visit, tcoe.org/Planetarium/PublicShows.shtm. Teachers interested in booking classroom visits are encouraged to call (559) 733-6433.

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