Gustafson Planetarium

The Gustafson Planetarium is a fully-equipped 48-seat theatre where audiences can learn about the wonders of the night sky.

Our operators will present a show that best suits each topic. The cost per show is $225.00 for a 45-minute to one-hour presentation. All shows will point out familiar constellations and current objects visible in the sky (planet locations, comets, meteor showers and other celestial events).

The Solar System full-dome shows:

  • “Rusty the Rocket” (ideal for pre-school and kindergarten): Join “Rusty the Rocket” as he teaches young rockets how to navigate the solar system.
  • “Perfect Little Planet” (recommended for elementary students): An alien family searches for the perfect planet to take a vacation.
  • “New Horizons” (general audiences): Follows a comet’s journey through the solar system.
  • “Nine Planets and Counting” (recommended for middle school and up): Discusses our evolving definition of a planet.

Beyond the Solar System:

  • “IBEX, The Search for the Edge of the Solar System” (recommended for middle school and up): “IBEX” delves into how spacecraft are built and launched into space as well as the invisible bubble that surrounds the solar system and the sun’s place and journey through the Milky Way galaxy.
  • “Dark Matter Mystery” (recommended for middle school and up): Delve into the unseen force that holds the Universe together and discover how scientists study what they can’t see by studying what they can.

The Search for Life:

  • “Cosmic Safari” (general audiences / 5th and up): Let your imagination take flight as we imagine life on hypothetical planets based on astro- biology; learn about the Kepler Space Telescope and its search for exoplanets and “Earth-like” planets and solar systems around other stars in the Milky Way.

The Telescope:

  • “Two Small Pieces of Glass” (general audiences / 5th and up): An introduction to spectroscopy, “the study of light” and the historical invention of the telescope. Discover how it transformed our view of the cosmos. Includes a brief overview of the Milky Way galaxy and its place in the universe.

Focus on Stars and the Sun:

  • “Solar Quest” and “The Incredible Sun” (recommended for 5th grade and up): Covers “Space Weather,” the sun as a dynamic thermal fusion generator as well as the Northern lights and the electromagnetic spectrum. Stars come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Stars and Light:

  • “Cosmic Colors” (general audiences): Learn about light and the spectrum of light generated by stars. Also features other types of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum including UV, Infrared, Radio, X-rays and Gamma Rays.

Highlights of the Solar System:

  • “Back to the Moon for Good”, “Moons of the Solar System” and “Mars Update” (general audiences): “Back to the Moon for Good” features Lunar X Prize, a friendly world-wide competition to invent technology and spacecraft to return to the moon—a great inspiration to young inventors. “Mars Update” is a historical look at the parade of discoveries from telescopic observations to spacecraft that have visited the red planet. The show may also include a clip of the “Landing of Curiosity.”

To enhance your planetarium experience, other activities can be added, including:

  • Solar System Walk (daytime shows only): Imagine taking a walk through the solar system to get an idea of its expanse. Actually, when the sun and its planets are reduced to a manageable scale, the solar system is easily traversed at Sharpe Reservation. Students will get a new perspective of the inner rocky planets as tiny objects closely circling the sun, while the outer gas giants revolve around it at vastly greater distances.
  • Star Clocks $ (daytime shows only): The rotating Earth gives the illusion that the stars travel across the nighttime sky. Conveniently, this allowed ancient societies to use the position of the Big and Little Dippers as a giant time-keeping device. Students will cut out and assemble their own Star Clock that they can take home and use in their own backyard.
  • Night Hikes $$ (evening shows only): Engage your night vision by exploring the forest of Sharpe at night (without flashlights!). This is an experience not to be missed!

$ – .50 per start clock made on card stock paper.

$$- 110.00 per instructor – recommend no more than 15 people per night hike.