After many years of being closed, the newly renovated Planetarium opened to the public on March 4, 2019.
With state-of-the-art projection technology and immersive surround sound, this venue will enhance our K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Outreach and explore the Universe and life on Earth.
Special Upcoming Events
Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary Celebration
To celebrate the first lunar landing on July 20, 2019 the Planetarium will be playing the critically acclaimed Apollo 11: First Steps Edition – a thrilling cinematic experience that showcases the real-life moments of humankind’s first steps on the moon. The filmmakers reconstruct the exhilarating final moments of preparation, liftoff, landing and return of this historic mission.
This film will be shown twice on July 20 at 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm. And at 2:17 pm—the exact moment the lunar landing occurred, the National Anthem will be sung on the planetarium steps by MSgt Julie Bradley, a vocalist with the U.S. Air Force Academy Band.
Registration is closed, both shows have reached capacity.
60 Minutes to Infinity: A Tour of the Cosmos
Which stars and planets are visible in the sky tonight? Join astronomer, Dr. Dan Polsgrove, for a stunning journey through the cosmos, exploring galaxies, nebulae, and our own neighborhood, the Solar System.
This show will premiere in the Planetarium on August 21 with two offerings at 9:30 am and 10:45 am. Reservations are required but there is no cost for your ticket to this exciting show. Register here
All shows are free to the public. Food, drinks and gum are strictly prohibited in the planetarium at all times. There are 110 seats with additional space for wheelchairs. No pets are allowed. Service animals specifically trained to aid a person with a disability are welcome. The Planetarium is closed on weekends, U.S. Air Force Academy graduation day, and Federal holidays.
Student Shows (School Visits)
Elementary, Middle and High Schools may reserve shows for their students on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Shows are typically followed by a 30 minute interactive presentation with a professional astronomer. When requesting a school visit, teachers may select from one of the following shows for their students: (see video descriptions below)
- Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity
- Eclipses and Phases of the Moon
- Experience the Aurora
- IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System
- Journey to the Centre of the Milky Way by ESO
- Robot Explorers
- The Future of Human Space Exploration by NASA
- Two Small Pieces of Glass
Shows are offered to the public, Monday-Friday, at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are required. These shows are available on a first come, first served basis. Shows are subject to cancellation without notice due to inclement weather and cadet education.
Dream Big: Engineering our World
|Experience the Aurora
Apollo 11: First Steps Edition
|Search for the Edge of the Solar System
Apollo 11: First Steps Edition
On April 6, the United States Air Force Academy Endowment celebrated the re-opening of the planetarium by recognizing the donors who so generously provided funding for the renovations.
Planetarium’s Grand Opening
On March 4, 2019, 2,500 people celebrated our grand opening with a show by Steve Spangler in Arnold Hall. Steve Spangler may be best known for teaching millions of people how to turn an ordinary bottle of soda and a roll of Mentos into an erupting geyser of fun. Steve is a regular guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show where he recently celebrated his 20th appearance. From sparks of electricity to exploding bubbles and giant rings of smoke, this show was perfect for the entire family. It was hands-on…filled with laughs…and so much fun.
On January 20, 2019, we offered a special opportunity for local residents to ooh and ahh at the night sky with a showing of the film “Eclipses and Phases of the Moon” in the Planetarium followed by viewing the eerie red total lunar eclipse through telescopes. We were thrilled to host about 850 people for the planetarium show that night and many more chatted with our observatory director while viewing the eclipse.
U.S. Air Force Academy
2304 Cadet Drive, Suite 3100
USAFA, CO 80840-5002
To reach the Planetarium, leave Interstate 25 at exit 156 and enter the U.S. Air Force Academy through the North Gate, which is open to visitors from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. You will need your driver’s license or military ID and proof of vehicle insurance to enter the base. Please be prepared for potential security measures such as vehicle inspections. For more information, click here. Once on base, continue driving straight on Academy Drive for 4 miles and then turn left to park in the visitor lot for Arnold Hall and the Cadet Chapel. For an interactive campus map, click here.
To the north of the visitor parking, there’s a building with a white dome – that’s the Planetarium! Please follow the steps to the front door or use the winding path to the left of the steps for handicapped access. Food, drinks and gum are strictly prohibited at all times inside the planetarium.
Humpback Whales is an extraordinary journey into the mysterious world of one of nature's most awe-inspiring marine mammals. Set in the waters of Alaska, Hawaii and the remote islands of Tonga, this ocean adventure offers audiences an up-close look at how these whales communicate, sing, feed, play and take care of their young. Found in every ocean on earth, humpbacks were nearly driven to extinction 50 years ago, but today are making a slow but remarkable recovery. Join a team of researchers as they find out why humpbacks are the most acrobatic of all whales, why they sing their haunting songs, and why these intelligent, 55-foot, 50-ton animals migrate up to 10,000 miles round-trip every year.
Run Time: 40 minutes
This is more than an eclipse show—it supports NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) curriculum, including:
- Phases of the Moon
- Solar and Lunar Eclipses
- Moon Lit by Reflected Sunlight
- Moon's Rotational Period and Orbit
- Scale/Orientation of Earth-Moon System
- Composition of the Lunar Surface
- Shape of the Solar System
Target Audience: Students age 8+ and general audience
Run Time: 20 minutes
John (“Otter”) Stratton is a young American fighter pilot who flies the F-15 Eagle, arguably the most potent and successful fighter plane ever built. His grandfather was a decorated World War II flying ace, and he intended to follow in his footsteps. At Red Flag, the international training exercise for air forces of allied countries, many of the world’s best pilots meet for the most challenging flying of their careers. Red Flag is the final training for pilots and their aircrews before being sent into actual combat. We follow our young pilot as he makes his way through this extraordinary event held in the desert of Nevada.
Run Time: 40 minutes
Over seven months in the Arctic Circle, our crews captured timelapse images of the Aurora Borealis with high resolution digital SLR cameras outfitted with fisheye lenses. The results are spectacular. For the first time, the aurora has been captured as it was meant to be experienced, as a display that covers the entire sky. This immersive show shares the science behind the aurora and tells the story of the quest to find and photograph the aurora to show in planetariums. Winner of 2 Telly Awards.
Run Time: 27 minutes
Dreams of flying, model aircraft and a young girl and her grandfather come together in this multi-media planetarium show about the science of aeronautics. Learn about famous inventors and aviators of the past and the pioneers who first revealed the four forces of flight. See images of aircraft past, present and future and imagine where flight might take us.
Run Time: 22 minutes
Narrated by Academy Award ® winner Jeff Bridges, Dream Big: Engineering Our world is a first of its kind film that will transform how we think about engineering. From the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest building, to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, Dream Big celebrates the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels big and small, and reveals the heart that drives engineers to create better lives for people around the world.
Run Time: 42 minutes
Galileo’s telescopic observations began a revolution, transforming our views of the cosmos and our place within it. It’s a revolution which, four hundred years later, continues. Today you can attend star parties where amateur astronomers set up their telescopes for public viewing. Views through such telescopes would have amazed Galileo. Two Small Pieces of Glass puts you in the middle of a modern star party. Discover the wonders that even a small amateur telescope can reveal and learn about the scientists that made such views possible.
Run Time: 23 minutes
Seen by millions worldwide, Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity is one of the most successful planetarium shows ever produced. This cutting-edge production features high-resolution visualizations of cosmic phenomena, working with data generated by computer simulations to bring the current science of black holes to the dome screen. Audiences will be dazzled with striking, immersive animations of the formation of the early universe, star birth and death, the collision of giant galaxies, and a simulated flight to a super-massive black hole luring at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Narrated by Liam Neeson.
Run Time: 24 minutes
Join scientists who are investigating the boundary between our Solar System and the rest of the galaxy. Designed for visitors who desire to learn more about scientific research, the show follows the creation of NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX). Audiences will get an in-depth look at the mission and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our Solar System’s boundary. Narrated by two inquisitive teenagers, audiences will hear from scientists and engineers who developed the IBEX mission and created the spacecraft, and get the latest updates on the mission’s discoveries.
Run Time: 27 minutes
What lies at the heart of our galaxy? For twenty years, ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Keck telescopes have observed the center of the galaxy, looking at the motion of more than a hundred stars and identifying the position of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Embark on a Journey to the Centre of the Milky Way and travel faster than light from the driest place on Earth, the Atcame Desert in Chile, right to the center of our own galaxy, where a black hole is consuming anything that strays into its path. 84 million stars will appear in front of your eyes, each hiding mysteries waiting to be solved. Are there planets around them, perhaps with moons? Do they have water? Could they harbor life?
Run Time: 7 minutes
A “public service announcement” planetarium show introduces and illustrates some of the issues regarding light pollution, and suggests three simple actions people can take to help mitigate it. The show educates the public about the problems of light pollution and the responsible use of lighting.
Run Time: 7 minutes
Today’s robots are nothing short of astonishing. Those coming in the not-too-distance future are simply revolutionary—and they are becoming eerily like us. What does it take to make a humanoid robot—a robot that can do anything we can do without the benefit of a human brain? How close are scientists to replicating some of the particularly challenging human characteristics? Why are we even attempting to create humanoids in the first place? ROBOTS answers these questions and more as it showcases the latest developments—the successes and failures—of robotics around the world. ROBOTS is a fascinating and fun look at what makes us human, how far machines can really go to look and act like us, and how humanoids are already changing our world.
Run Time: 39 minutes
Near the end of the twentieth century, we began launching unmanned probes into the far reaches of the solar system. What they discovered was amazing and, in some cases, unexpected. Now, after dozens of probes have been deployed, the exploration continues. New space missions are underway, and many of these robust spacecraft are still operational, beaming their knowledge back to Earth every day. We will pay tribute to these robots who have explored in our stead and experience what they have taught us about our solar system. Narrated by Brent Spiner of television’s Star Trek: The Next Generation. Telly Award Winner.
Run Time: 30 minutes
NASA is entering an extraordinary new era. Today NASA looks forward to writing the next chapter of human space flight with its commercial and international partners: advancing research and technology on the International Space Station, opening low Earth orbit to U.S. industry, and pushing the frontiers of deep space even farther.
Run Time: 11 minutes