2024 solar eclipse!

path of totality

eclipse glasses

The planetarium has added resources about the solar eclipse on April 8 under the Educational Resources page. All are welcome to join the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society in Olney to watch the astronomical event.

You can see the fulldome feature Totality! on every weekend in the dome until the eclipse to learn more about these phenomena and how they look on other worlds.

You can buy eclipse glasses from the planetarium from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays and when public shows are offered on weekends.

The planetarium will be closed on April 8 as all the staff are traveling to the path of totality. The Parkland College Learning Commons is hosting a viewing party from 1 pm to 3 pm on that day. You can see the partial eclipse with free snacks, drinks, activities, and eclipse glasses.


Sensory-friendly shows on selected Saturdays!

Did an Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs?

The Little Star That Could

The Staerkel Planetarium offers sensory-friendly shows, which feature "lights up, sound down" and 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!

Please see our calendar for program descriptions and show times.

Our sensory friendly documents page has information about our supports and digital copies of our social stories.


Spanish-language shows available! 

Astronomía a gran escala

Un cielo, un mundo

¡El Planetario Staerkel ofrece shows en español! Puede ver programas como Un cielo, un mundo: La aventura de Big Bird y Astronomía a gran escala y realizar un recorrido en vivo por el cielo nocturno con un hispanohablante. Por favor comuníquese con el personal del planetario para obtener más información acerca de shows públicos en el futuro o para reservar un evento para su grupo.

The Staerkel Planetarium is offering shows in Spanish! You can see programs such as Un cielo, un mundo: La aventura de Big Bird and Astronomía a gran escala and get a live tour of the night sky with a native Spanish speaker. Contact the planetarium staff for more information about future public shows or to reserve an event for your group.

The presenter, Ricardo Covarrubias Carreno, Ph.D., works at the University of Illinois and he teaches astronomy at Parkland College and Millikin University.


Videos available on our YouTube channel!

If you missed one of our shows, our Prairie Skies shows and our Kaler Lectures are recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. The staff have also produced short videos to commemorate the the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope and the landing of Perseverance on Mars. Click here to find a complete listing.


Hubble 30th anniversary photo banner on display

Cosmic Reef

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.


Many Inspired Steps exhibition celebrates anniversary of Apollo 11

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 pm 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 depicts various elements of astronomy along with four giants of the field, Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. A full description of the mural can be found here.