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Community celebrates Planetarium reopening

By Rachelle Stoll, Strategic Communications

Photos by Joshua Armstrong

An audience gazes at the galaxy in the Planetarium’s hemispheric dome on May 7, 2022.

An audience gazes at the galaxy in the Planetarium’s hemispheric dome on May 7, 2022.

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, COLO., — Cadets, base employees, local community members and their families celebrated the official Planetarium reopening at the United States Air Force Academy with a public open house on May 7, 2022.

Over 1,500 people were in attendance for the celebration, which included live astronomer shows, food trucks, a glider exhibition, and an inflatable planetarium. The Bird mascot greeted guests in the area while the Academy’s Falconry team showed four live falcons and fielded questions from the attendees.

Ziva, a hybrid Gyr-Saker falcon, spreads hers wings and delights guests at the Planetarium reopening on May 7, 2022.

A young guest admires one of four live falcons showcased at the open house on May 7, 2022.

The Planetarium was built in 1959 and is one of the oldest structures at the Academy. An extensive renovation in 2019 updated the interior to include reclining theater seats, digital surround sound, and an impressive series of 8K projectors offering a 360-degree immersive experience.

Visitors had limited access to the Planetarium during the COVID-19 pandemic and extensive construction of the Harmon Hall parking lot. The open house marks the Planetarium’s return to regular operations and hosting 45,000 visitors each year. Its extensive STEM outreach program provides educational opportunities for around 5,000 local K-12 students annually.

The Planetarium’s administrator and astronomer, Rémy Morgan, is a space enthusiast and is excited about the interactive nature of the astronomer fly-throughs. She encourages visitors and students to ask as many questions as they want during these shows.

“We look at and learn about the night sky and constellations, see the planets and learn all about them, and see the universe as a whole to get a sense of scale,” said Rémy.  “No two shows will be exactly the same because it’s audience-directed and I do think visitors will enjoy that live aspect of it.”

Live astronomer fly-throughs occur regularly on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1:30 PM. STEM-related movies will show at 12 PM and 4 PM on those days.

Educators may schedule field trips and STEM shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please e-mail planetarium@afacademy.af.edu to schedule.

For the most up-to-date information, including movie showings and schedule changes, head to the Planetarium page.

More photos of the planetarium reopening available in our Flickr album.

Planetarium Open House glider exhibit

Astronomer fly-through in Planetarium

Planetarium Open House food trucks

The open house included a cadet glider exhibit, astronomer fly-throughs, and food trucks on May 7, 2022.