Public Program Schedule

2019-2020 Public Program Schedule

*All programs include live star and constellation indentification.




Show Descriptions

Signature Shows

The night sky changes with the seasons, and so does our Skywatch program. This LIVE traditional star talk shows the current night sky, constellation lore, and current astronomical events.

Explore Our Universe Live!
Audiences of this live show will embark on a grand tour of our universe in real time, with opportunities to influence where we travel and what we discover.

Nightlights 3.0
The Ward Beecher Planetariumís spooky and spectacular annual Halloween spectacular has been going strong since 1974! This year, there are new songs and old favorites.  Come in costume!  Great for all ages, although younger visitors might be scared of the loud music and dark.

Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond the Solar System
Through the discovery of exoplanets ó the thousands of planets that have been found orbiting stars beyond the Sun ó we have learned that our solar system is not alone in the universe and we have had to redefine our understanding of planets and solar systems. With new achievements like the Kepler Telescope and rapidly improving technology, the discovery of exoplanets puts us one step closer to the possibility of finding an Earth-like world. How will this change how we view our place in the universe?

Let It Snow!
A holiday music show celebrating the winter season. Artistic impressions of popular winter holiday music come to life on the dome transporting the entire family to a magical wonderland of music and light. Experience bells and reindeer, presents and cookies, snow and nutcrackers in colorful spectacles of fun!

*NEW* One Day... On Mars
Join our expedition to Mars and enjoy a thrilling immersive experience. Youíll dive into the depths of seemingly bottomless canyons and brave the violent winds that sweep across the Red Planetís icy dunes. ďOne Day Ö on MarsĒ will take you to a world that mankind could well visit in just a few decades in our ongoing search for life.

The Sun: Our Living Star
The Sun has shone on our world for four and a half billion years. It is our nearest star and our planetís powerhouse, the source of the energy that drives our winds, our weather and all life. Discover the secrets of our star in this planetarium show and experience never-before-seen images of the Sunís violent surface in this visually striking planetarium show about the most important star in our lives.

STARS focuses on the lives of the stars, how they are born, how they die, and how human understanding of the stars has changed over time. From Native Americans to Newton, from the electromagnetic spectrum to Einstein, audiences will explore nebulae, star clusters, pulsars, black holes, and more. The program features the voice talent of Mark Hamill.

*NEW* Big Astronomy: People, Places & Discoveries
Discover the impressive observatories in Chile, the people who run them and the exciting discoveries uncovered from these world-class telescopes. This program will include a presentation of the night sky as seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

Family Shows

It is our popular light and music extravaganza, presented in a fun, non-scary style, making this show ideal for all ages. COME IN COSTUME!

One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
Big Birdís Adventure begins on Sesame Street when Elmoís friend Hu Hu Zhu visits from China. Big Bird, Elmo, and Hu Hu Zhu take viewers on an exciting discovery of the Sun, Moon, and stars. They learn about the Big Dipper and the North Star and take an imaginary trip to the Moon.  Celebrate with Elmo and Hu Hu Zhu the idea that even though we live in different countries, we still share the same sky.

The Alien Who Stole Christmas
Enjoy a tour of winterís evening sky and then join jolly old Saint Nick and Mr. Freep as they explore the solar systemís planets and meet the Christmas Eve needs of their fictitious inhabitants.

*NEW* Explore Our Solar System LIVE
Join us on the Starship Ward Beecher as we explore our solar system in real time, with opportunities to influence where we travel and what we discover.

Earth, Moon, and Sun
Coyote has a razor sharp wit, but heís a little confused about what he sees in the sky.  Join this amusing character (adapted from American Indian oral traditions) in a fast-paced and fun show that explores lunar phases, eclipses and other puzzles.  Engaging and immersive, Earth, Moon & Sun also examines how humans learn through space exploration.

Special Events

Opening Weekend LIVE! with MoonStation Burning
We open our season with an extra-special LIVE CONCERT! Local band MoonStation Burning will perform TRANSMISSION in the planetarium to special effects from our SkySkan Definiti Theater System and our ChromaCove Lighting!

Wizarding Weekend - Oct 4th & 5th
Join us for a magical weekend as we celebrate all things Harry Potter!  Learn about the night sky and how it relates to the wizarding world.  Test your knowledge for a chance to earn house points.  Who will win this year’s house cup?
Seating is first come, first seated.

So You Want to Buy a Telescope/So You Got a Telescope - November 23 & January 18
The Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society (MVAS) has been offering help and advice the past few years to telescope owners. 
So You Want to Buy a Telescope returns on Saturday, November 23 to help you make wise choices when it comes to the purchase of your own telescope. This program will be held from 3-5 p.m and you can drop in anytime in the two hours.

Rock The Dome Weekend - Jan 24th & Jan 25th
Our popular music shows return using our SkySkan Definiti Theater System to rock out! Some favorites return, plus BRAND NEW shows as well!

Visitor Appreciation Weekend - May 17th & 18th
As a big THANK YOU for a great year, you get an encore: vote for any of our shows on this yearís schedule, and we will run it one more time!


Lecture Series

The Ward Beecher Planetarium is proud continue our popular lecture series: astronomers will visit for LIVE presentations on the latest fascinating findings on a wide variety of topics!

Size Isnít Everything (for Telescopes)
Moiya McTier (Columbia University) Friday, November 15
Large telescope facilities cost billions in both time and money to construct and maintain, so why do we have so many of them? In this talk, Moiya will tell you what it is about different telescopes that make them better or worse suited for different areas of research.

Finding Earth 2.0
Dr. Suvrath Mahadevan (Penn State University) Friday, March 20
Modern astronomical instruments are approaching the exquisite sensitivity to detect the signature of an Earth-mass planet around a Sun-like star. Dr. Mahadevan shall discuss the astrophysical and engineering challenges involved in making these difficult measurements with the Doppler radial velocity technique and the prospects for detecting and characterizing such planets and their atmospheres using both ground and space-based observations.