Planetarium helps students reach for stars


Space is the “final frontier,” at least according to William Shatner.

The void above isn’t hard to find, but it can be difficult to reach without a spacesuit or rocket fuel.

Luckily, the Clever Planetarium has your star-gazing needs covered.

On the first floor of the Cunningham building, two large glass doors under the label “Planetarium” guard a miniature museum that leads to the main attraction — the dome.

“It’s a way to get people into science that’s educational but also fun,” said the planetarium’s technician, Kyle Wilson.

The egg-shaped ceiling shelters 48 chairs and two machines, one that’s mechanical, the other digital.

The older projector is actually the cause for the planetarium closing down in 2005, because of its high maintenance cost and low public attraction.

“It was more money than administration was willing to spend,” said Wilson.

But just in time to save the day, STEM Grant paid to move the planetarium from its basic light-based structure to a more advanced digital one.

The newer projector doesn’t only shine the night sky overhead, but also shows viewers the stars from other planets and plays assorted science educational films.

“I think when it closed down, a lot of people wanted it back,” said Wilson.

“Force 5” and “California Skies” are the first shows this semester and are airing today, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 10.

According to the planetarium’s website, “Force 5” is a film that throws the viewer into various catastrophes and “California Skies.” It includes a presentation of Stockton’s night sky featuring planets and star constellations.

Customers that show up early can explore the museum exhibits, which consist of dinosaur bones and a Magic Planet machine.

This Magic Planet machine allows users to explore various planets at the touch of a finger.

“It’s a great tool for teaching science, planetary science,” said Wilson.

Public shows run one weekend every month on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $8 for public showings and $6 for students, children, and seniors.

Customers can purchase tickets in advance from the Center of the Arts website or by calling (209) 954-5110.

The Planetarium is also hosting separate, free showings for students, that alternates between Wednesday and Thursday.

For more information, contact Kyle Wilson at or by calling (209) 954-5313.