First Things First
During the fall 2023 (through December 14) and spring 2024 semesters (February 1 through May 17) at UWEC, we are happy to announce that we are again scheduling private planetarium shows. Private shows are unavailable during the winter or summer breaks due to insufficient staff.
Private shows usually include a roughly 1-hour presentation including ample time for questions from the audience. They are a perfect component for a class field trip, and they are also popular with scouting groups, 4H groups, and other similar organizations. The Planetarium seats up to 50 guests, though that number can go up to 60 if most guests are young children.
A single private show for up to 50 guests costs $75. Additional shows to accommodate larger groups cost $75 each.
To start booking a private show, read the FAQs and then complete the form linked below, and a representative will get back to you within a few days.
What is a planetarium show like?
The L.E. Phillips planetarium uses a starball projector to create a shockingly beautiful and dynamic illusion of the night sky in a dark dome. For much of the shows, you will see a realistic depiction of the night sky broadcast onto the roof of our dome, but you will also see the sky move and change to show the passage of time.
It is not, however, a movie theater, and the room is usually extremely dark, with presentations being driven by an oral presentation from the director and/or staff, with perhaps the aid of a conventional projector for parts of the show.
Shows start with about fifteen to twenty minutes of introductory material about the planetarium itself, some common constellations, and special things in the sky that night. The following thirty minutes or so focus on some broad theme in astronomy. Audience members are offered many opportunities to ask questions about the presentation, with a final time for general questions at the end of the show.
What age groups are appropriate for a planetarium show?
Due to the darkness, quiet, and attention required for an engaging show, we do not recommend under the age of about 7 for planetarium shows. When we have hosted children that young, they often lose interest and have to leave the show early. Opening the door to the planetarium for an early exit disrupts other participants' night vision, so we ask you to please reserve planetarium shows for older children and adults.
Beyond that limitation, though, planetarium shows are a wondrous and educational experience for children, teens, and especially adults, who are often surprised by how much they learn.
What is the cost and how do I pay?
Regardless of the number of attendees, each 1-hour show costs $75, which can be paid via cash or check made out to "UWEC Department of Physics and Astronomy". This can be paid ahead or time or on the day of the event. Please contact the director (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are in need of an invoice.
I have a guest in a wheelchair or with hearing loss. Can you accommodate them?
If someone in a wheelchair can be moved to a bench seat, we can get them in early. Otherwise, there is room for about one wheelchair in the planetarium, though it is not facing a convenient direction for some shows. We look forward to a new planetarium in the future that will be much more accommodating to visitors with disabilities.
We do have assistive devices to help guest with hearing loss. Please let us know ahead of time that you will need it so we can confirm that it is in working order. If you have your own microphone that you'll need us to use, please ensure that it does not have any included lights that will disrupt the show.
What if I have too many guests to fit in the planetarium?
We would have to split the event into two groups. Depending on availability of other faculty and staff on campus, we may be able to combine your planetarium visit with a science theater show or a visit to the greenhouse and do a flip flop halfway through.
What if I have more than 100 guests?
We do not have the logistical ability or schedule flexibility to arrange for three separate sessions. You will need to split up into multiple trips if you would like to visit the planetarium.
What days and times can I schedule my visit?
In general, we can schedule shows from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM on most weekdays and from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM on Mondays, with the caveat that staff must also be available. We require that all shows are scheduled at least two weeks in advance, though many considerations require a 30-day advance notice (see below). We can provide you with a link to schedule a show once your application has been accepted.
Since the planetarium is on a university campus with limited parking and strong child protection protocols, scheduling can get a little more complicated than that, though. Read each heading below and see which apply to you. Several will likely apply to you.
I will have at least one child under the age of 18 in my group. (This includes all schools outside higher education.)
To comply with the University of Wisconsin System's protocol for protecting children, there is some paperwork that must be completed, and it may require some followup. We cannot schedule your show for any date sooner than thirty days after we submit the paperwork. We will provide you with any necessary forms after your application is reviewed and accepted.
I want to visit during an evening or weekend
We have no full-time staff. However, many groups can only meet after school hours. In an attempt to meet this demand, we can schedule after hours shows on Mondays from 6:00 PM–8:00 PM. We do not schedule shows during the weekend or any other weeknights. We understand that this may not meed all groups' needs, but we appreciate your understanding that our staff need to maintain work-life boundaries. For smaller groups, we encourage you to simply come to a public show on Thursday nights.
I have a large group and need to combine the planetarium show with another event
These sorts of events are scheduled on a case-by-case basis. Due to the limited window of combined availability for the planetarium and other events like science theater, you will have relatively few options for when to hold your event.
I need to park individual cars on campus during the show
If your event is during a Monday evening, you can park in almost any parking spot on campus. We recommend the lot behind Phillips Science Hall.
If you will come via bus (and not any sedans, trucks, SUVs, etc.), we can usually have you park in our water street lot. Still, let us know during the registration process if you'll need a place on campus to park your bus(es).
During class hours (before 4:00 PM), parking is limited and strictly enforced. We can provide visitor permits for specific lots with some help from you, though. We need a count of how many visitor permits will be needed at least 30 days before the event. We will also need one of the following at least two weeks before the event:
- list of license plate numbers and states for cars that will need parking permits OR
- list of e-mail address of drivers (it will then be the drivers' responsibility to enter their vehicle information online before parking)
We cannot mix and match these strategies.
I'm not bringing any youth and I don't need any class hours parking permits
That's pretty easy! We just need to agree on a date and time at least two weeks in advance.