United States Air Force Academy

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To the stars

Planetarium

Front doors of the planetarium at the Academy.

 

We offer a diverse range of full-dome and IMAX films, live talks and educational events using our state-of-the-art 8K projection technology and immersive surround sound.

The Academy’s Planetarium enhances our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) outreach and cadet education mission through public shows, field trips, and cadet classes.

Free Public Shows

All shows are free and open to the public so military or Department of Defense identification is not required. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis as we do not accept reservations. We recommend arriving 10 minutes prior to the show time. See below for show schedule. Shows are subject to cancellation without notice due to inclement weather and cadet education. The Planetarium is closed on graduation day and federal holidays.


School Shows

Elementary, Middle, and High Schools may reserve planetarium field trips at no cost Monday through Friday. When requesting a school visit, teachers may select from the list of programs found just below our schedule. We also offer live, interactive astronomy shows tailored to your grade’s science standards. Home school co-ops and classes with fewer than 15 students may request to join one of our Homeschool Open House Days, listed in our Public show section. To request a visit or reserve a place at our homeschool open house, email planetarium@afacademy.af.edu and include your organization, your preferred dates/times, number of student attendees, and any special accommodations.

Educators interested in additional STEM resources and opportunities can find STEM Outreach information here.


Cadet Shows

The Planetarium creates an immersive learning environment for cadets that can’t be replicated in a traditional classroom or online environment, leading to greater comprehension of complex topics. Although its primarily used as a source of astronomy and astrophysics education, the capabilities and content have expanded to encompass a variety of disciplines such as biology, chemistry, geology, engineering and history. To discuss how we can support curriculum or schedule a visit Monday through Friday, faculty and staff should email planetarium@afacademy.af.edu.


Schedule

Please check back for updated show listings.

January Show Schedule
Monday through Thursday Closed to public; available for field trips & events

Friday January 27

12:30 – Black Holes
1:30 – Volcanoes
Saturday January 28 12:30 – From the Earth to the Universe
1:30 – Night Sky + Universe Tour
3:00 – Forward to the Moon
4:00 – Great Bear Rainforest
Monday January 30 10:30-11:30 – Oasis in Space + Live Show with an Astronomer (Homeschool open house. Full – no seats available.)
February Show Schedule
Tuesday through Thursday Closed to public; available for field trips & events
Friday February 3 12:30 – Astronaut
1:30 – Superpower Dogs
Saturday February 4 12:30 – Oasis in Space
1:30 – Humpback Whales
3:00 – Experience the Aurora
4:00 – Night Sky + Solar System Tour
Monday February 6 9:00-10:00 – Astronaut + live talk (Homeschool open house. Email for details and to reserve seats.)
12:30 – Black Holes
1:30 – Fighter Pilot
Friday February 10 12:30 – Forward to the Moon
1:30 – Apollo 11
Saturday February 11 12:30 – Astronaut
1:30 – Night Sky + Universe Tour
3:00 – Oasis in Space
4:00 – From the Earth to the Universe
Monday February 13 10:30-11:30 – Great Bear Rainforest + Night Sky (Homeschool open house. Email for details and to reserve seats.)
12:30 – Night Sky Tour
1:30 – Great Bear Rainforest
Friday February 17 12:30 – Black Holes
1:30 – Volcanoes
Saturday February 18 12:30 – Oasis in Space
1:30 – Night Sky Tour + Black Holes
3:00 – Forward to the Moon
4:00 – Superpower Dogs
Monday February 20 Closed for Presidents’ Day

Friday February 24

12:30 – Astronaut
1:30 – Dream Big
Saturday February 25 12:30 – Night Sky Tour
1:30 – Humpback Whales
3:00 – Black Holes
4:00 – Fighter Pilot
Monday February 27 9:00-10:00 – Black Holes + Live Talk (Homeschool open house. Email for details and to reserve seats.)
12:30 – Experience the Aurora
1:30 – Night Sky + Universe Tour
Directions

To visit the Planetarium, use exit 156 off Interstate 25 and enter the U.S. Air Force Academy through the North Gate. 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. Foreign national visitors with a passport will need to go to the Pass & Registration Center, just outside the South Gate at exit 150, to obtain a pass.

Learn more about base access and check out the campus map. Please do not follow GPS directions as those will take you to an incorrect location.

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. To the north of the visitor parking, there is 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 ramp access.

History

The Planetarium was originally built in 1959 and is one of the oldest structures at the U.S. Air Force Academy. With seats surrounding the perimeter and a large projector in the center, the Planetarium was initially used to teach celestial navigation classes to cadets. Due to rapidly advancing computing technology, cadets no longer had a need to navigate by the stars and this resulted in its closure in 2004.

After 15 years of sitting vacant, a passionate group of Academy leaders with the support of private donors spearheaded an effort to not only refurbish the structure, but advance the technology and capabilities inside to serve a new generation of cadets leading the way in space. Although the exterior remains virtually identical to its previous incarnation due to its historical status, the interior now features reclining theater seats and a series of 8K projectors built into the walls that offer a 360-degree near-hemispheric screen to deliver a visually immersive field-of-view to audiences.

On March 4, 2019, the Planetarium officially reopened to the public, welcoming over 45,000 visitors in its first year of operation, including 4,000 K-12 students. With a new mission to enhance STEM outreach to the local community, it quickly became a top-rated attraction and tourist destination in Colorado Springs.