Group and School Programs
The ISU Planetarium offers a variety of programs complimenting Illinois's preschool, elementary, middle, and high school science and math curriculum. Additionally, these programs provide enriching entertainment for clubs and social groups.
Please visit our YouTube channel for educational programs available on-line for free!
And, visit the ISU Plantarium's Facebook page for astronomical activities, along with the latest happenings in astronomy and science!
Feature Programs Under Our Dome
In-person 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.
Please note: Following Illinois State University policy: face coverings are recommended, but not required, in all University public indoor spaces. This includes the ISU Planetarium. For more information, please visit the University's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response web site.
One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
From China to America, explore the night sky with Sesame Street's Big Bird, Elmo, and their new friend from China, Hu Hu Zhu! This delightful program is full of songs and laughter for children of all ages!
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?
The Little Star That Could
The Little Star That Could is a charming story about an average yellow star in search of a name and planets of his own to warm and protect. Along the way, he meets other stars, learns what makes each star special, and discovers that stars combine to form star clusters and galaxies.
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
Follow Astronomer Mike Brown and his CalTech team as they discover evidence of a Kuiper Belt object 10 times more massive than Earth, and embark on the search for
a new ninth planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MUSICA — Why is the Universe Beautiful?
A flower, the sound of a forest, a sunset, the stars overhead…
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
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 ISU Planetarium at (309) 438-2496 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.
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.
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 S-103, next to the ISU Parking Office on Main Street -- 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: