Public Program Schedule

2018-2019 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! *NEW*
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 Planetarium’s 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.

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!

Cosmic Castaways
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. But some find themselves on their own, deep within voids between the galaxies. These are the cosmic castaways. An original production of the Ward Beecher Planetarium, this program is based on research by YSU’s astronomers Dr. John Feldmeier and Dr. Patrick Durrell.

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!

Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond the Solar System *NEW*
Through the discovery of exoplanets — the hundreds of planets that have been found orbiting stars beyond the Sun — 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?

Moons: Worlds of Mystery
When you consider the solar system, you often think of the Sun and its planets. But what about moons? What role do they play? Delve into what they look like and how they contribute to our knowledge of the solar system in Moons: Worlds of Mystery! It explores hundreds of these known satellites throughout the solar system, orbiting five other planets and even some asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects.

First and Farthest *NEW*
First and Farthest celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. From the first rockets, to the first man on the moon, this new show hails humanity's great accomplishments in the Space Race. This show will bring back memories for those who experienced the Space Race and inspire new generations to keep exploring our universe.

Natural Selection
We will join Darwin on his voyage with the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands where he was inspired to develop his later theory of transmutation by natural selection.
From the comfort of Down House in Kent, Darwin himself will explain the mechanism of natural selection to the audience, and support it by showing many beautiful examples in nature.
The thrill of a scientific discovery, the adventure of science and the beauty of nature are central in this show. This program is a joint presentation of YSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Biology.

Family Shows

One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
Big Bird’s Adventure begins on Sesame Street when Elmo’s 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.

Earth, Moon, and Sun
Coyote has a razor sharp wit, but he’s 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.

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

Cosmic Recipe: Setting the Periodic Table *NEW*
The famous astronomer Carl Sagan once said: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
Though that may sound crazy, Sagan was onto something BIG! Want to know what? Pull up a chair at our Planetarium’s Periodic Table and learn the cosmic recipes that created everything in our world – even us! Discover how the Big Bang and the stars have cooked up the everyday elements we interact with every day—like the calcium in our teeth, the silicon in our smartphones, and even the carbon in our apple pies.
Explore the world of chemistry—the protons, neutrons and electrons! See how tiny atoms relate to the mammoth stars! Connect the physical worlds of the small and large in this engaging and inspiring show.

Sky Wars: Battles of Discovery *NEW*
In this Planetarium program, follow the struggles as new discoveries alter our view of Earth and its place in the universe. Witness the connections and conflicts between astronomy and astrology. See how the Earth went from a flat place to a round world -- from a static, motionless home to a spinning, orbiting planet! Finally, voyage into the galaxy to glimpse how future discoveries might start new battles about the sky above.

The Little Star That Could
A little star is born, and he's average. But there's nothing wrong with being average, as our little star discovers, especially if you want to have a planet with life! The program looks at different sizes and colors of stars and our solar system.

Lecture Series

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

Cosmic Train Wrecks: When Galaxies Collide - November 9th
Dr. Jillian Scudder (Oberlin College)
Galaxies are not always solitary islands in a mostly-empty Universe - occasionally they find themselves with close neighbors. When the neighbors are close enough, gravity promises us a cosmic smash-up, with the two galaxies flung around each other to form a new galaxy. This process provides some of the most photogenic images, but what can we learn from this process? Dr. Scudder will discuss how we search for these collisions between galaxies, how this collision changes the galaxies involved, and what we still hope to learn.

How Many Ways Can A Black Hole Kill You? - 1st
Dr. Rajib Ganguly (University of Michigan-Flint)
.nBlack holes lurk in the vastness of space. But unlike their Hollywood depictions, black holes don't go around devouring everything in sight. Nevertheless, they are still dangerous creatures, and best studied from afar. Join Professor Rajib Ganguly, Associate Chair of Physics and resident astronomer at the University of Michigan-Flint, as he ponders the many ways an encounter with a black hole could lead to an untimely demise.

Special Events

Wizarding Weekend - Oct 5th & 6th
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 - Dec 1st
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 11 to help you make wise choices when it comes to the purchase of your own telescope. This program will be held from 1-3 p.m and you can drop in anytime in the two hours.

Eyes Over Chile Skies *NEW* - Nov 30th & Dec. 1st
This live program will focus on the impressive observatories in Chile, detailing 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.

Rock The Dome Weekend *NEW* - Jan 25th & Jan 26th
Our popular music shows return – but this year we use our new SkySkan Definiti Theater System to rock out! ALL NEW shows from Queen, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and many, many more!

So You Got a Telescope takes place on Saturday - Jan 19th
People are invited to bring their new scopes (and ones that have been gathering dust) and have one-on-one time with the MVAS experts. This program will be held from 1-3 p.m and you can drop in anytime in the two hours.

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 year’s schedule, and we will run it one more time!