United States Air Force Academy

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To the stars

Planetarium

Front doors of the planetarium at the Academy.

 

With state-of-the-art projection technology and immersive surround sound, the Academy’s Planetarium enhances our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach and cadet education.

We offer a diverse range of full-dome films, concerts, live talks and events, as well as host large gatherings during astronomical and NASA-related events.

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.


School Shows

Elementary, Middle and High Schools may reserve free shows for their students Monday through Friday. When requesting a school visit, teachers may select one of the shows listed at the bottom of this page. We also offer live, interactive demonstrations with an astronomer as we navigate the galaxy. To request a reservation, email planetarium@afacademy.af.edu and include the preferred date/time, number of student attendees, and any special accommodations.

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


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 weekends, graduation day and federal holidays; however, in September the Planetarium will be open on Saturdays through a reservation system.


Schedule

Please check back for updated show listings.

For September the Planetarium offers four sessions for public shows on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Please note the Planetarium is closed on home football game days and registration is required for Saturday shows.

September Show Schedule
Tuesday Closed to public; available for field trips & events
Wednesday Closed to public; available for field trips & events
Thursday September 29 12:30 – Eclipses & Phases of the Moon
1:30 – Volcanoes
3:00 – Oasis in Space
4:00 – Night Sky + Solar System Tour
Friday September 30 12:30 – Experience the Aurora
1:30 – Night Sky + From the Earth to the Universe
3:00 – Astronaut
4:00 – Humpback Whales
October Show Schedule
Tuesday Closed to public; available for field trips & events
Wednesday Closed to public; available for field trips & events
Saturday October 1 Closed for football game
Tuesday October 4 1:00 – Cool Science Festival show – Requires registration: Night sky tour + Oasis in Space
2:30 – Cool Science Festival show – Requires registration: Live night sky & Universe tour
6:00 – Cool Science Festival show – Requires registration: Live night sky & Universe tour
Thursday October 6 12:30 – Forward to the Moon
1:30 – Dream Big
No 3:00 show
4:00 – Night Sky & Solar System Tour
Friday October 7 12:30 – Oasis in Space
1:30 – Night Sky & Universe Tour
3:00 – Experience the Aurora
4:00 – Great Bear Rainforest
Saturday October 8 12:30 – Black Holes Requires RSVP
1:30 – Night Sky + From the Earth to the Universe Requires RSVP
3:00 – Fighter Pilot Requires RSVP
4:00 – Superpower Dogs Requires RSVP
Thursday October 13 12:30 – Oasis in Space
1:30 – Volcanoes
3:00 – Eclipses and Phases of the Moon
4:00 – Night Sky + Solar System Tour
Friday October 14 12:30 – Astronaut
1:30 – Night Sky + Universe Tour
3:00 – Forward to the Moon
4:00 – Great Bear Rainforest
Saturday October 15 12:30 – Black Holes Requires RSVP
1:30 – Apollo 11 Requires RSVP
3:00 – Black Holes Requires RSVP
4:00 – Humpback Whales Requires RSVP
Thursday October 20 12:30 – Live Night Sky
1:30 – Superpower Dogs
3:00 – Experience the Aurora
4:00 – Humpback Whales
Friday October 21 12:30 – Oasis in Space
1:30 – Night Sky + Solar System Tour
3:00 – Astronaut
4:00 – Dream Big
Saturday October 22

Closed for football game

Thursday October 27 12:30 – Black Holes
1:30 – Fighter Pilot
3:00 – Forward to the Moon
4:00 – Great Bear Rainforest
Friday October 28 12:30 – Live Night Sky
1:30 – Humpback Whales
3:00 – Oasis in Space
4:00 – Fighter Pilot
Saturday October 29 12:30 – Black Holes Requires RSVP
1:30 – Spooktacular Stars + Space Requires RSVP
3:00 – Astronaut Requires RSVP
4:00 – Spooktacular Stars + Space Requires RSVP
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 (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach to the local community, it quickly became a top-rated attraction and tourist destination in Colorado Springs.

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.

For more information on how to access the base, and for a map, click here. 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.