YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The universe is billions of years old but the YSU planetarium is only 55 years old. Its new season starts this weekend.
The YSU planetarium is a 40-foot dome that can show you every color imaginable. For 55 years, it’s also been able to take you anywhere in the universe.
“We can visualize what you’ll see up on the dome. We can bring people together in a fun environment and we can always keep you up to date on what’s new in space and astronomy,” said Curt Spivey, an engineer/producer for the YSU planetarium.
When the planetarium was set up in 1967, it was the first in the country to have all the seats facing forward in a classroom setting. It’s now used for four introductory astronomy courses a semester.
“You know, not only learn about the night sky and wonderful things up there, but what makes these things tick? How does it work?” said Dr. Patrick Durrell, an astronomy professor at YSU.
The planetarium features a dozen shows a year. “NightLights” has been popular around Halloween since 1970. A “Rock the Dome” show features lights and modern music. New this year, “We Are Stars” traces where atoms started, and there’s a show geared toward children called “Perfect Little Planet.”
The shows are great for those who want to be astronauts and those who are comfortable learning about the stars from the ground.
“Number one, we aren’t ever going to know everything, and there’s always something new to learn,” Spivey said.
It’s that desire to fly around the universe that is the main attraction. The planetarium uses digital technology to help you explore Saturn’s rings or to help you better understand the Milky Way.
Organizers want the planetarium to be a public resource to the Valley, which is why it’s free and open to the public.
“If they’d like to know what’s the latest, they can come here, see a show about the latest happenings in astronomy, what’s the latest stuff that we’re learning? And also to ask questions of those of us who work in the field,” Durrell said.
Shows start this weekend. The schedule is 8 p.m. on Fridays. Two more shows are on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.