Group and School Programs


Group and School Programs

| Feature Programs | Sky Lectures | Other Programs | Planning Your Trip | Contact Info |


The ISU Planetarium offers a variety of programs coordinated with preschool, elementary, middle, and high-school course work. In addition, the Planetarium offers programs as a popular form of enriching entertainment for clubs and social groups. Two types of programs are available: Multi-media and live presentations.

Feature Programs

Multi-media presentations include slides, video, special effects, music, and narration devoted to a single topic. These presentations also include a brief talk that highlights the stars and constellations found in the current evening sky.

Larry Cat in Space (Recommended for Preschool - Grade 2)

Here's a story about an inquisitive cat that 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?


Teddy's Quest (Recommended for Preschool - Grade 2)

Teddy's Quest tells the beguiling story about a teddy bear that is born in space. Lonely, he then sets out to find a friend. As Teddy travels among the stars he learns about the universe that surrounds us.


The Little Star that Could (Recommended for Kindergarten - Grade 4)

Join our rather average star as it takes a journey through the Milky Way in search of planets. Rejoice with the star when it discovers that by being very average, it is actually special!


Mr. Moon and Company (Recommended for Kindergarten - Grade 4)

This program describes the antics of Mr. Moon, the program moderator. Mr. Moon introduces Sol the Sun, Mother Earth, Sister Space, and the rest of the solar system family. Each planet tells of its unique characteristics in an entertaining and memorable way.


Bear Tales and Other Grizzly Stories (Recommended for Grades 4 - 6)

Join Grandpa Ben and his family as they camp under the stars. Join Ben's family as he tells tall tales about the late-spring and early-summer night sky. Hear legends from ancient Egypt and Greece, all the way up to a tail about Blackbeard the Pirate.


3-2-1...Blast Off! (Recommended for Grade 4 - 6)

Join young Alex, Devon, and Science Officer Pixel aboard the spacecraft Sol 1 in the cyberspace solar-system adventure. Follow Devon and Alex as they visit and explore each of the planets; as well as the Sun, asteroids, and comets. This program provides an entertaining and educational look at our solar system.


Secret of the Cardboard Rocket (Recommended for Grade 4 - 6)

Journey past the Sun to the terrestrial planets and gas giants of our solar system with two young children and their spunky guide an astronomy book. Explore these amazing places in a single night from the safety of a rocket made from cardboard!


Daughter of the Stars (Recommended for Grades 4 and up)

The earliest inhabitants of North America told stories that were quite different from those of their European counterparts. This program showcases several legends about the night sky as told by Native Americans from Alaska to Mexico.


On the Tail of a Comet (Recommended for Grades 5 and up)

Comets blazing across the night sky have frightened and fascinated mankind since the dawn of time. Explore the ancient history and discover the true nature of these "harbingers of doom." Along the way, take a wild ride through the solar system on the tail of a comet!


The Stellar Tapestry (Recommended for Grades 7 and up)

Among the stars are woven the imaginary shapes of brave heroes and terrifying monsters. Handed down from ancient times, these mythological figures form the basis of our modern constellations. Discover the secrets of their past and explore the myths that thread throughout this stellar tapestry.


Follow the Drinking Gourd (Recommended for Grades 5 and up)

The stars of the Big Dipper are among the brightest and most distinctive in the night sky -- pointing the way to the North Star. Throughout time these stars have been thought to resemble everything from a bear and three hunters to a drinking gourd guiding the way to freedom. Join us as we explore the tales surrounding the Big Dipper and the stars that it points to!

Einstein's Universe (Recommended for Grades 7 and up)

Follow Albert Einstein's incredible life and explore his unique perspective on the Universe. Delve deep into the heart of the atom, understand why stars blaze brightly, travel at nearly the speed of light, and venture to the edge of our vast Universe in this fascinating story of scientific discovery.


The Explorers of Mauna Kea (Recommended for Grades 7 and up)

Venture with astronomers to the top of windswept Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, as they explore the heavens with the world's greatest telescopes. Discover how these cutting-edge telescopes work and probe the mysteries of the universe that they seek to unravel.


Timothy Ferris's Galaxies (Recommended for Grades 7 and up) - New!

Travel on a voyage of discovery to the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond in Timothy Ferris's Galaxies. Take a trip to the glittering stars and beautiful nebulae of our galaxy's spiral arms. Journey to the Milky Way's pulsating heart of black holes. Then venture to the realm of the galaxies and back in time to the beginning of the Universe.

Sky Lectures

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. These programs are about 45 minutes in duration.


Magic Sky (Recommended for Preschool - Kindergarten)

This is a basic introduction to the sky of day and night. Children are introduced to the motion and appearance of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars.


The Sky of Day and Night (Recommended for Grades 1 - 4)

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 (Recommended for Grades 5 and up)

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

Other programs are available upon request. They can be laboratory exercises, or they can be related to special topics such as reasons for the seasons and effect of latitude motion.

Planning Your Trip

Admission charge -

The admission charge for school and private showings is $3.00 per person, with a minimum group fee of $45. 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 planetarium personnel upon entry. No cash please.


Reservations -

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.


Preparation -

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. Gum and candy are not permitted in the planetarium.


Location -

The white-domed planetarium is at the east end of Felmley Hall at the corner of School Street and College Avenue in Normal.


Parking -

Bus parking at the University is strictly monitored. Cars or buses parked illegally may be ticketed and towed. Groups arriving by car should park in the Bone Student Center parking lot. Bus drivers should drop off their passengers in front of the planetarium and then park in lot G82 -- see flyer sent along with confirmation for location. Questions about parking should be directed to parking services at (309)438-8391 before arrival on campus.

For more information, please write or call:

Thomas Willmitch, Planetarium Director
Illinois State University
Campus Box 4560
Normal, IL 61790-4560
(309) 438-5007 or (309) 438-2496


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