United States Air Force Academy

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Planetarium

Front doors of the planetarium at the Academy.

 

The U.S. Air Force Academy Planetarium is temporarily closed due to parking lot construction.

With state-of-the-art projection technology and immersive surround sound, the Academy’s Planetarium enhances our K-20 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) outreach and cadet education.

Planetarium Information
Public Shows

Under normal operating conditions, shows are offered free 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 serve basis. There are 110 seats with additional space for wheelchairs. No pets are allowed; however, service animals specifically trained to aid a person with a disability are welcome. Food, drinks and gum are strictly prohibited at all times.

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.

School Shows

Under normal operating conditions, 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.

  • Astronaut
  • Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity
  • Eclipses and Phases of the Moon
  • Experience the Aurora
  • Journey to the Centre of the Milky Way by ESO
  • Two Small Pieces of Glass

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 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. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been temporarily closed to the public.


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, 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. 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 handicapped access.