Group and School Programs
The ISU Planetarium offers a variety of programs complimenting preschool, elementary, middle, and high-school course work. Additionally, these programs provide enriching entertainment for clubs and social groups. Two style of planetarium programs are available: Emersive full-dome video and live presentations.
Feature programs include emersive full-dome video, narration, music, and special effects devoted to a single topic. These programs are usually
followed by a brief look at the bright stars and constellations found in the current evening sky.
Larry Cat in Space
Larry Cat in Space is the story of an inquisitive cat who stows away in his owner's baggage and becomes the first cat on the Moon. What problems will Larry encounter first as a weightless cat and then as a lunar lightweight?
One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
Follow Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo as they explore the night sky with their Chinese friend Hu Hu Zhu. When Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu "travel" to the moon, they discover some basic but surprising scientific facts. For example, they can't fly a kite there because there is no wind. The fuzzy friends then excitedly realize that children like to fly kites in both China and the United States!
The Little Star That Could
The Little Star That Could is a story about an average yellow star on a search for planets of his own to warm and protect. Along the way, he encounters other stars, learns what makes each star special, and discovers that stars can combine to form clusters and galaxies. The Little Star eventually finds his planets and is introduced to each, along with basic information about the Solar System.
Cosmic Colors takes you on a wondrous journey across the electromagnetic spectrum. Discover why the sky is blue and Mars is red. Explore how the human eye works. Then travel deep inside a plant leaf. Along the way, investigate the x-rays radiated by a monstrous black hole. Get ready for an amazing adventure under a rainbow of cosmic light!
A photon's journey across space, time, and the mind. Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, this planetarium show is based on the PBS documentary "Sight – The Story of Vision." Seeing! explores the science, technology, and medicine allowing us to understand how sight works, cure diseases of the eye, and correct vision.
Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope
Two Small Pieces of Glass: The Amazing Telescope follows two students as they explore the night sky with an astronomer at a local star party. Along the way, the students learn the history of the telescope from Galileo’s child-like spyglass -- using two small pieces of glass -- to the launch of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy. Geared to engage audiences of all ages, the show explores the wonders discovered by astronomers over the last 400 years.
Travel back in time to experience the birth of our Sun and solar system. Discover how the Sun came to support life, how it threatens life as we know it, and how the Sun’s energy will one day fade away. Experience our unique star, the Sun, in Sunstruck!
Back To the Moon for Good
It has been more than forty years since the last American astronaut walked on the Moon. Back to the Moon for Good, narrated by Tim Allen, traces our first steps on the Moon and how lunar exploration benefits us all. The program then explores the wealth of knowledge and resources gained by a return to the Moon, focusing on the Google Lunar XPRIZE – a $30-million prize offered the first non-governmental teams to successfully send robotic missions to the Moon.
From Earth to the Universe
The night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe 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
Revealing Light's Secrets: The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph
Revealing Light's Secrets: The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph looks at spectroscopy, the science of light. Discover how scientists study the Universe by deciphering
clues hidden in the light from distant objects.
Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun
Humans have long imagined exotic and intriguing worlds beyond our solar system. However, in recent years, science fiction has become science fact. In Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun, discover what our sophisticated telescopes and detection techniques reveal about worlds beyond the eight planets of our Sun.
There are places where the night sky has no constellations. No Orion, no Big Dipper, nothing but a few lonely, far away stars and a few faint, ghostly patches of light. Most stars lie within the crowded boundaries of galaxies, travelling with their brothers and sisters in a vast galactic family. However, some stars find themselves on their own, deep within voids between the galaxies. These are the cosmic castaways.
Hot and Energetic Universe
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. This branch of 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. Learn about our hot and energetic universe in The Hot and Energetic Universe!
Dark Matter Mystery
What keeps Galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the Universe? What makes the Universe look the way it looks today? Researchers all around the world try to
answer these questions. We know today that approximately a quarter of the Universe is filled with a mysterious glue: Dark Matter. We know that it is out there. However, we have
no idea what it is made out of.
Discover the science of flight through the eyes of a young girl and her grandfather as they explore how birds soar and aircraft fly. Learn the history of flight and explore the future of aviation -- including how NASA is discovering new and safer ways to fly.
Dawn of the Space Age
Relive the excitement of the early days of space exploration!
Life: A Cosmic Story
Life: A Cosmic Story tells the 14-billion-year saga of how we came to be. Narrated by Jodie Foster, it is a journey from the microscopic view inside a plant cell to the
vastness of our universe populated by billions of galaxies swirling in space.
Dinosaurs at Dusk
Follow the adventures of a father and his teenage daughter Lucy, who share a fascination for all things that fly. They travel back in time, navigating from continent to continent,
exploring an Earth teeming with pterosaurs and the ancestors of modern-day birds — the feathered dinosaurs.
Habitat Earth: Living In a Connected World
Dive below the ocean's surface to explore the dynamic relationships found in kelp forest ecosystems, travel beneath the forest floor to see how Earth's tallest trees rely on tiny
fungi to survive, and journey to new heights to witness the intricate intersection between human and ecological networks.
These full-dome short subjects are included free upon request, following any regular program.
Losing the Dark
Starry skies are a vanishing treasure because light pollution is washing away our view of the cosmos. It not only threatens astronomy but also disrupts wildlife, and affects human
health. The glows over cities and towns — seen so clearly from space — are testament to the billions of dollars spent in wasted energy by lighting up the sky.
Sky lectures are live shows covering numerous topics. They may include special effect projectors to enhance the presentations. All sky lectures are about 60 minutes long, the only exception being those for preschoolers. The latter are about 45 minutes in length.
The Sky of Day and Night
Children will be shown how to locate and name the four principal directions by using the Sun during the day and the Big Dipper and the North Star at night. They also will be shown how to identify bright stars, constellations, and any planets visible in the evening sky.
The Sky Tonight
This program begins with an introduction to the daytime
sky. After the Sun sets, an introduction is made to such phenomena
as twinkling, stellar magnitudes, and star colors. Various deep
space objects will be pointed out and examined. Pupils will receive
a star map and be instructed in its use.
Other programs are available upon request. These can be laboratory exercises or related to special topics, such as why we experience seasons.
Planning Your Trip
Admission charge -
The admission charge for school and private presentations is $3.00 per person, with the minimum group fee $45 (some programs are $60). One adult supervisor is admitted free with every 10 children in school or day-care groups. Group leaders should collect the appropriate admission fee from group members in advance and prepare a single check payable to Illinois State University. The check should be given to a Planetarium staff member upon entry. No cash or credit cards are accepted.
Special presentations are available to groups throughout most of the academic year Tuesday through Friday between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm. Reservations are required for all group visits during these times. They are available on a first-com-first-served basis and should be made at least two weeks in advance by calling the Planetarium at (309) 438-8756 during regular office hours. Callers should be prepared to give preferred date and time of visit (plus alternatives); number of students attending; program subject or title; and the name, address, and telephone number of the group leader. Please contact the Planetarium immediately if it becomes necessary to cancel reservations.
A planetarium field trip can be an important teaching tool. The effectiveness of the trip will be related to the amount and quality of preparation and the extent to which the need for the trip grows out of classroom work.
Arrival Times -
Groups should plan on arriving at the planetarium at least 10 minutes before show time, because schedules are tight and cannot be rearranged to accommodate a group that arrives late. It may be necessary for a group to miss part of its program due to late arrival. Those expecting to arrive late should call the Planetarium immediately. Groups not arriving within 15 minutes of their scheduled program time risk having their program cancelled.
Student Behavior -
Classroom behavior is expected from students and teachers during programs. It is suggested that parent supervisors accompany large groups in a ratio of one parent to 10 students. Students should be reminded that classes are in session at Illinois State University throughout the year. Therefore, students are expected to be quiet and reserved when in universtiy buildings. Food and drink, including gum and candy, are not permitted in the Planetarium.
The ISU Planetarium is located under the white domed roof at the east end of Felmley Hall of Science Annex. Felmley Hall is located on the northeast corner of the ISU campus at the intersection of College Avenue and School Street, in Normal.
Car and bus parking at the University is strictly monitored. Cars or buses parked illegally may be ticketed and towed. Groups arriving by car should take advantage of inexpensive parking in the ISU visitor lot, located on Locus Street. Bus drivers should drop off their passengers in front of the Planetarium, on School Street. Afterward, buses should park in ISU Lot G82 -- please see the flyer accompanying your program confirmation for the lot's location. Questions about parking should be directed to ISU Parking Services at (309) 438-8391 before arrival on campus.
For more information, please write or call: