Show Listing

Schedule a private show for your group!  

With seating for 125, the Staerkel Planetarium has nearly two dozen different one-hour programs that can be scheduled for private viewing for school field trips, scout troops, day care groups, park recreation, civic groups and others. Many of our programs have a live narrator, or are interactive. These programs can be tailored to fit a wide range of student ages, interests, and curricula. Note that our programs are now linked with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). See the teacher's guides after the show descriptions for more information.

  • One show-$3 per person
  • Two shows-$4.50 per person (Stay for two consecutive shows and get a second for half price!)

Note: For groups arriving with less than 20 people, there is a minimum fee of $60 for one show and $90 for two shows. (This is effective September 1, 2015. It is not a price increase, but an increase in the minimum number. The per person fee is still $3.)

A note about show format . . . . "live-narrated" is a show presented live by a presenter. This type of show allows for interaction with the audience but may be missing a soundtrack. This type of show may possibly be altered to allow for discussion of topics a class may be covering at the time. "Digital remaster" refers to one of our older programs that we felt was good enough to adapt to our digital format. There are more still images in these programs in addition to the soundtrack and video. A "fulldome presentation" is a purely digital program with its own soundtrack. These are our newer programs. Each show, no matter the format, covers the entire dome. Also note that fulldome shows are usually a bit shorter than normal and we like to fill-in the time with a short live talk on the current constellations and planets. If you have questions, please call our office.

Browse through our show listing and make a reservation to get started on scheduling your show. We do some outreach to schools, though availability is limited. Consider our popular "Traveling Space Suit Show."   While you are on campus, consider taking the kids just across the perimeter drive and walking the scale model solar system! 

Parkland College encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, such as a sign language interpreter, or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the Office of Disability Services by phone at 217/353-2338, or by email at disabilityservices@parkland.edu. To provide seamless access please submit all requests two weeks in advance of your participation or visit.

Sun, Moon, and Stars

Sun, Moon, and Stars

Grade: Pre-K to 2

Live-narrated

The youngest stargazers are introduced to the spinning Earth and the night sky, plus pay a visit to the Moon. "Sun, Moon, and Stars" was designed for first grade teachers in the Unit 4 district who use the unit of the same name. The program content can be altered to support your classroom instruction.

Show Guide


The Little Star That Could

The Little Star That Could

K-3

Fulldome Presentation

Journey with “Little Star,” an average yellow star, in search of planets of his own to protect and warm. Along the way, he meets other stars, learns what makes each star special, why they are different colors and how they combine to form star clusters and galaxies.  Let’s hope a delightful cast of characters including “Pearl” and “Big Daddy” can help “Little Star” find some planets!  

Show Guide


One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure

One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure

Grade: Pre-K to 2

Fulldome Presentation

Explore the night sky with our friends from Sesame Street™. Join Big Bird, Elmo, and Hu Hu Zhu as they take a trip to the Moon. See how the Moon is different from the Earth and learn how to find the Big Dipper and North Star from your backyard. This interactive show was coproduced by the Adler Planetarium, Sesame Workshop, the Beijing Planetarium, and Liberty Science Center and comes to us through a grant from the PNC Foundation.

Show Guide


Shapes in the Sky

Shapes in the Sky

Grade: Pre-K to 2

Live-narrated

Our popular "Prairie Skies" show, featuring the current constellations, is now in a form for very young stargazers. First, we'll play a game, finding shapes in an image, then expand to find shapes among the stars in the night sky. The show finishes off with a new fulldome feature called "Space Shapes" where we look at the shape of the Sun, Moon and planets. "Is it round like a ball or round like a pancake?"

Show Guide


In My Backyard

In My Backyard

Grade: Pre-K to 2

Digital Remaster

Let's explore the night sky from our own backyards! Through the use of storytelling, poetry, and songs, children are encouraged to participate in the show while learning about the seasons, Ursa Major, planets, meteors, and the Moon. Narrated by Fred Penner.

Show Guide


Santa's Secret Star

Santa's Secret Star

Grade: Pre-K to 2

Digital Remaster

How will Santa find his way home? You, too, can find Santa's secret star in the sky in this holiday show about the winter sky. Learn about the North Star and how the sky changes as we travel northward.

Show Guide


Amazing Stargazing!

Amazing Stargazing!

Grade: 1-4

Digital Remaster

Learn all the sky watching basics with the fun radio DJs from “Radio Aahs.” Meet Aahsie and the gang as they happily explain the causes for day & night, moon phases, and the difference between comets and meteors. A great introduction to the night sky!

Show Guide


Prairie Skies

Prairie Skies

Grade: 1 and up

Live-narrated

Locate planets and constellations in our current night sky while hearing legendary stories of the heavens. What star groups and planets will we see tonight?

Show Guide


Coyote Explores the "Earth, Moon and Sun"

Coyote Explores the "Earth, Moon and Sun"

Grade: 2-6

Fulldome Presentation

Explore the relationships between the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions who has many misconceptions about our neighbors in space. His confusion makes us think about how the Earth, Moon and Sun work as a system as we distinguish between myth and science. Examine how the Sun rises and sets and how the Sun shines, then learn about craters on the Moon, phases and eclipses. Lastly, we look at past exploration of the Moon. Originally produced by the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in North Carolina. [Note: This is a different show from "Sun, Moon, and Stars" which is a live show for K-1.]

Show Guide


Reasons for the Seasons

Reasons for the Seasons

Grade: 3 and up

Live-narrated

Examine why we have seasons by watching the apparent motion of the Sun throughout the year and how its changing altitude affects our climate. If time permits, we then travel to the North Pole and the equator to see how the climate is affected by the Sun.

Show Guide


Odyssey

Odyssey

Grade: 3 and up

Digital Remaster

New! The quest to comprehend the universe is an ancient one, beginning when our first ancestors looked up. "Odyssey" takes us on a personal voyage of discovery through the cosmos, from the legends and monuments of early sky watchers to an imaginary flight through the Solar System and our home galaxy, and into the very depths of space and time.

Show Guide


Flight Adventures

Flight Adventures

Grade: 3 and up

Fulldome Presentation

Discover the science of flight through the eyes of a young girl and her grandfather as they explore how birds, kites, planes, and models fly. Learn about the history and future of flight and how NASA is discovering new and safer ways to travel with the help of future engineers and aviators—like you!

Show Guide


Our Place in Space

Our Place in Space

Grade: 4 and up

Live-narrated

Written for the Champaign schools curriculum with the same name, this program covers the current sky as seen from your backyard (including star colors and apparent brightness) before moving on to the phases of the Moon, the importance of the North Star, and the apparent motions of the Earth. How do we really know the Earth is round?

Show Guide


Dawn of the Space Age

Dawn of the Space Age

Grade: 4 and up

Fulldome Presentation

From the launch of the satellite Sputnik, to space flights and lunar landings, humans have wanted to travel to the stars. Witness the drive, passion, and perseverance of the men and women that took part in the death defying endeavor to explore space travel. You will be immersed and overwhelmed with this historic reconstruction of our first steps into space.

Show Guide


Solar System Safari

Solar System Safari

Grade: 2-5

Digital Remaster

A jungle adventurer uses a magical camera to take visitors on an exciting safari through the Solar System. The Sun, Moon, planets, and dwarf planets come to life, taking on unique personalities and describing their own characteristics and eccentricities. Learn about the planets and the current status of Pluto. A great solar system show!

Show Guide


Two Small Pieces of Glass - The Amazing Telescope

Two Small Pieces of Glass - The Amazing Telescope

Grade: 3 and up

Fulldome Presentation

While attending a star party, two teenage students learn from a female astronomer how telescopes have helped us understand our place in the universe. In their conversations, we hear about the history of the telescope and some of the discoveries that have been made using this device. Learn how telescopes work and how they reveal Jupiter's moons, the rings of Saturn and spiral galaxies. This show was produced for the International Year of Astronomy (2009) but we now have a fulldome version to share.

Show Guide


Messages of Starlight

Messages of Starlight

Grade: 5 and up

Live-narrated

How can we discover the temperatures and compositions of the stars given their great distances? Students will analyze the spectra of several light sources in and hands-on activity, then try to unlock the secrets of starlight. The program also include the fulldome feature "Expanded View."

Show Guide


Sky Cycles

Sky Cycles

Grade: 5 and up

Live-narrated

From our backyards we notice cycles in the sky.After looking at the current night sky and noticing a few constellations and planets, the show examines the phases of the Moon through a model on the dome.We then venture to a morning sky and predict where the Sun will rise, then investigate the path of the Sun during our four seasons.If time permits, we’ll zoom away from the Earth to see the planets orbiting the Sun in our solar system, noting the flatness of the planetary system and how planets closer to the Sun orbit faster.This live show matches the Champaign Schools 8th grade curriculum in Space Science, though any group can reserve the show.

Show Guide


IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System

IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

IBEX follows the creation of the Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite and its search for the boundary of our solar system. Narrated by two inquisitive teenagers, the show focuses on the mission and the significance of this boundary. Along the way, we are treated to an amazing visual tour of the our planetary system. Produced by the Adler Planetarium.

Show Guide


Light Years From Home

Light Years From Home

Grade: 4 and up

Live-narrated

We live in a big universe! But it is sometimes difficult to realize just how large it is. Enjoy the a star-filled sky as seen from our backyards. Orbit the earth, visits the solar system, stars, Milky Way, the Local Group of galaxies, and the many galaxy clusters that fill the universe. It's quite the trip!

Show Guide


Cosmic Colors

Cosmic Colors

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

Take a journey across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Discover the many reasons for color— “why the sky is blue” and “why Mars is red.” Journey inside a plant leaf and the human eye. Investigate x-rays and see the actual color of a dinosaur. Get ready for an amazing adventure under a rainbow of cosmic light!

Show Guide


Violent Universe

Violent Universe

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

Comets, asteroids and meteoroids hurtling through space; stars collapsing under their own gravity; infernos of nuclear energy releasing their deadly radiation across the universe! Witness the raw power of the cosmos in this thrilling new show that gives you a front-row seat to watch as worlds collide. This is the inaugural show for our full dome projection system!

Show Guide


Secrets of the Sun

Secrets of the Sun

Grade: 4 and up

Fulldome Presentation

Take an intimate look at the role the sun plays in our solar system. From the nuclear forces at the heart of the sun to the mass ejections of solar material in surrounding space, you will experience the power of the sun and its impact on the planets and life on Earth. Secrets of the Sun traces the life cycle of the sun itself, from beginning to its eventual death.

Show Guide


From Earth to the Universe

From Earth to the Universe

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

The night sky has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe for as long as there have been people. A desire to comprehend the Universe may well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. Yet only recently have we truly begun to grasp our place in the vast cosmos. To learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes, we invite you to experience From Earth to the Universe, a new fulldome show from the European Southern Observatory.

Show Guide


The Planets

The Planets

Grade: 5 and up

Digital Remaster

Take a breathtaking tour of our own planetary system, including some of the latest discoveries. See how our solar system may have formed and visit planets in other star systems. The show originally written and distributed by the Southeastern Planetarium Association and is narrated by Kate Mulgrew of “Star Trek: Voyager” fame.

Show Guide


Skywatchers of Africa

Skywatchers of Africa

Grade: 5 and up

Digital Remaster

Originally produced by the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, “Skywatchers of Africa” is a celebration of many diverse African cultures and their observations and explanations of the yearly cycles of the heavens.  Africa has many vibrant cultures thriving today, as well as countless past civilizations that continue to speak to us through their sky lore across time.

Show Guide


Spirits From the Sky, Thunder on the Land

Spirits From the Sky, Thunder on the Land

Grade: 5 and up

Digital Remaster

Come with us on a never-before-seen journey into the culture of the Pawnee Native American Nation, who lived in what is now Nebraska and northern Kansas from the 1600’s to 1876. Their culture grew of out their legends and lore of skywatching. The newly-converted takes you inside a Pawnee earth lodge through the development of the agricultural calendar and the Pawnee creation legend.

Show Guide


Solar Superstorms

Solar Superstorms

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

A fury is building on the surface of the Sun - high velocity jets, fiery tsunami waves reaching 100,000 km high, rising loops of electrified gas.  What is driving this strange phenomena and will it affect Earth?  Find out in this new production, featuring scientific visualizations from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) on the UIUC campus.  Peer into the Sun using the latest scientific data.

Show Guide


The Stargazer

The Stargazer

Grade: 5 and up

Fulldome Presentation

Come along on a journey to the stars with University of Illinois Astronomer James B. Kaler in an exciting program written and produced by the Great Lakes Planetarium Association. Nichelle Nichols (from the original "Star Trek") and Dr. Kaler narrate this personal look at gravity, light, and the spectrum and how they help us decipher the lifestyles of the stars. The Stargazer has been updated and adapted for fulldome video!

Show Guide


The Dark Matter Mystery

The Dark Matter Mystery

Grade: 8 and up

Fulldome Presentation

What keeps Galaxies together? What are the building blocks of the Universe? What makes the Universe appear the way it looks today? We know today that approximately a quarter of the Universe is filled with a mysterious glue: Dark Matter. We know that it is out there. But we have no idea what it is consists of. Join us on the biggest quest of contemporary astrophysics as we explore evidence for Dark Matter both in space and deep underground.

Show Guide


Season of Light

Season of Light

All ages

Digital Remaster

"Season of Light" traces the history and development of many of the world's December holiday customs, all of which involve lighting up the winter season "Seasons of Light" also recounts the historical religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice - not only Christian and Jewish, but also Celtic, Nordic, Roman, Irish, Mexican and Hopi. It also takes a look at some of our more light-hearted seasonal traditions.

Show Guide