Virtual shows now available!

The Staerkel Planetarium is now offering shows online. Please check the calendar page for more information and for links to the shows. The first public shows will be shown for free on Zoom. These shows will run like the live-narrated shows offered in the dome.


Staerkel Planetarium to Unveil Hubble 30th Anniversary Photo

Hubble 30th

On 2020 April 24, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrated the 30th anniversary of its launch aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. In honor of that occasion, a stunning new Hubble image of the cosmos was released. The Staerkel Planetarium has been selected as one of a limited number of locations across the nation to unveil the Hubble 30th anniversary photo to the public.

Members of the public are invited to attend this unveiling, free of charge, when the planetarium is able to reopen. The unveiling will take place in the lobby of the planetarium and will be accompanied by a short presentation of the science behind the image. Attendees are encouraged to use the hashtag #Hubble30 to share their experience.

The Staerkel Planetarium and the other unveiling locations received a 7.5-foot by 5.5-foot vinyl banner featuring the 30th anniversary image, as well as labels in English and Spanish with more information. The banner will be mounted in the lobby after this event, and the image will be incorporated into future Prairie Skies shows. A limited supply of lithographs from STScI will also be available.

A full list of all the national unveilings, as well as downloadable resources and a gallery of Hubble’s most iconic images, are available at hubblesite.org/hubble-30th-anniversary.


Sensory-friendly shows on selected Saturdays!

Cosmic Colors


The Staerkel Planetarium is now offering sensory-friendly shows! The matinée showings of One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure will feature "lights up, sound down" and will have a relaxed atmosphere where patrons can come, go, and move around as needed. 

Our sensory-friendly shows are great for guests with autism spectrum disorder, sensory sensitivities, or young children. All are welcome, even if you don't need sensory accommodations! 


Spanish-language shows debut!

Arqueoastronomía Maya

Un cielo, un mundo

Con la finalidad de disminuir el número de reuniones no esenciales y darle prioridad al bienestar de nuestra comunidad, el Planetario M. Staerkel cancelará todas las actividades en el planetario programadas. Los shows cancelados serán reprogramados en el futuro.

Gracias por su comprensión y manténgase a salvo.

El Planetario Staerkel estará también exhibiendo shows públicos en español por primera vez en su historia! Tendremos el show Un cielo, un mundo: La aventura de Big Bird y Arqueoastronomía Maya. Ambos shows serán presentados por un hispano hablante nativo.

The Staerkel Planetarium is also giving public shows in Spanish for the first time! We will show Un cielo, un mundo: La aventura de Big Bird and Arqueoastronomía Maya (Mayan Archaeoastronomy) Both shows will be presented by a native Spanish speaker.

The presenter, Ricardo Covarrubias Carreno, Ph.D., has worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois and he has taught astronomy at Parkland College since 2018. The planetarium staff are working with Ricardo to acquire more fulldome shows in Spanish and to tailor existing resources for live-narrated shows.


Many Inspired Steps exhibition celebrates anniversary of Apollo 11

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is pleased to present Many Inspired Steps, an exhibition that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

On July 20, 1969 at 10:56:15 p.m. E.D.T. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon with the now famous words: “That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong’s “one small step” was just the crowning accomplishment of an endeavor that goes back centuries. Many Inspired Steps tells the story of that endeavor: the mythology of Icarus flying to close to the Sun and his wax wings melting; the conquest of the air in the 20th century; the conquest of space; and, of course, the triumph of Apollo 11, and much more.

*Many Inspired Steps was organized by Thomas A. Lesser and is distributed by Audio Visual Imagineering, Inc.


See the Goose Kaler Meteorite Collection on display in our lobby

Kaler meteorite

On loan from the James B. Kaler family, the meteorite collection contains samples from Canyon Diablo, Esquel (Argentina), Gibeon (Namibia), and Sikhote-Alin (Siberia). The "monster" of the collection is a 16 kilogram iron meteorite that you can touch. A brochure containing background information on the samples can be downloaded here.


Cosmic Blink

Cosmic Blink was created by artist Billy Morrow Jackson in 1988. The mural is a collage featuring four giants of astronomy, namely Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo, Joannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. A full description of the mural can be found here.