Planetarium Provides Path to the Stars for Past 40 Years

By Anneth V. Ortega

College of Southern Nevada’s The Planetarium is celebrating its astronomical 40th birthday.

Nick Juliano, planetarium program manager, said, “I am proud to work for The Planetarium at CSN. Our small facility educates many thousands of students a year, makes astronomy more approachable to Las Vegas and hosts a number of programs from NASA initiatives to our friends in the Las Vegas Astronomical Society. We squeeze the most out of everything we have in order to benefit the community and it is an honor to be a part of that.”

The dome provides classroom space for introductory astronomy courses, field-trip opportunities for school children, and programs and shows for the community including the current line-up: “Mystery of the Missing Seasons,” “The Dark Matter Mystery” and “Black Holes.” Additionally attendees can stargaze through telescopes—located at North Las Vegas campus—that provides opportunities to see stars and nebulas thousands of light years away.

Planetarium Manager Andrew Kerr looks into the future of this CSN staple. “The Planetarium is entering a new phase of its existence. Instead of simply providing content made by others we are beginning to create our own content. We are working with a group to create a planetarium program about the desert tortoise. We are also reaching out within the college community itself to work with other departments to see how they may be able to use The Planetarium to benefit their students. One of these is the geology department. We are talking about creating geology road trips that can be shown on the dome to geology students. It is actually a very exciting time.”

“Our 68-seat theater features an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5 high-definition hemispheric video-projection system that creates virtual realities on an impressive dome surrounding the audience,” according to The Planetarium’s website. This creates a unique experience to view the universe.

Juliano shared some of his aspirations for The Planetarium. “While we achieve great successes with generous support by CSN and NASA, we have a huge opportunity to capitalize on our current position as the only public planetarium in Las Vegas: the entertainment capital of the world. It would be great to build a larger theater at a more centralized location within the CSN system so we can serve an even larger number of people per year. We hope to see that happen in the future.”

“The Planetarium was a great experience for me,” said Shakirah McCants, student at CSN. “Being able to physically look at the solar system and the galaxies intrigued my interest in the class of astronomy. I personally loved The Planetarium. Astronomy was probably my favorite class because of it.”

The Planetarium offers its current programming through April 29 on Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Stargazing is available after the last viewing. On Saturdays 3:30 p.m. showings are also available.

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