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Search the Sky
Videos brought to you by the Lawrence Planetarium at UC Berkeley, hosted by John Erickson the Director of the Planetarium. Click play to view.
The Audience is Part of the Program
The staff of the Lawrence Hall of Science Planetarium have developed an international reputation as leaders in the design of audience-participation planetarium programs. Over 55 million people have explored the skies through planetarium programs developed here at the Hall and offered at 220+ planetariums nationwide.
The Planetarium is the proving ground for the Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS) project, which develops, tests, and disseminates audience-participation programs to planetariums worldwide.
State of the Art Viewing!
Experience our all-digital projection system and Digitarium Epsilon fulldome video projector, with the option of running either the Digitalis Edition of Stellarium or DigitalSky2 from Sky-Skan, Inc. Fulldome video allows images, video clips, and other visuals to be seen anywhere on the dome. Visitors can see the sky from anywhere and any time on Earth, but we can also even "leave" Earth and "fly" throughout the Solar System and throughout the Universe!
The setup of the Planetarium includes:
- Digitarium Epsilon projector capable of running Nightshade or DigitalSky 2
- 9-meter (30-foot) negative-pressure Geodesic Pacific Dome
- 50-person capacity in two rows of bench seats with reclined backs, with wheelchair access
- Sound system by Pro Home systems, using Meyer Sound components
Just as they have since our first Planetarium was constructed in 1973 (with a GOTO Mercury opto-mechanical star projector), all of our programs continue to be completely live and interactive, so that activities and your questions are part of the program.
View the stars and more after-hours from the Plaza of the Hall.
Uncle Al’s Star Wheels
Make and use your own Uncle Al’s Hands-On Universe Star Wheels and have a working star map for anytime of night, any month.
Astronomy Events and Products
Our experienced educators have teamed up with space scientists at UC Berkeley, NASA, and beyond to create a variety of exciting and effective space sciences products.
- Learn more about the Hall’s role as the NASA Kepler Mission outreach and education lead.
- Make your own starmaps of the night sky with the free program Stellarium.
- Explore the universe right on your computer with the free program Celestia.
- Try imagining your own aliens at home with the Free Spore Creature Creator.
- Learn more about astrobiology at astrobiology.nasa.gov.
More fun Astronomy-Related Events
- Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS)
- Star Clocks: tell time by the stars.
- Sky Challenger: a set of six interchangeable star wheels full of activities.
- Introductory Wheel
- Binocular Sky Treasure Hunt
- Test Your Eyes—Test the Skies
- Where Are the Planets?
- Native American Constellation
- Invent Your Own Constellations
- Star Clocks
Space Sciences Curricula
How Big Is the Universe
You know that the Solar System is big. Is a galaxy bigger? How much bigger? How do astronomers measure how big and how far away the Moon or a star or a galaxy is? We will actively explore these questions, and we’ll take a tour from Earth to the farthest edge of the observable Universe.
Imagine the Sky Tonight
What stars can you see in the sky this time of year? What shapes and stories can you imagine among them? We will give you a star map and teach you to find constellations, the starry patterns of the night sky. We might also find planets, star clusters, and other hidden treasures of the night sky. We will even imagine that we are flying away from Earth to make observations from far off in space.
The Search for Another Earth
The Lawrence Hall of Science and the SETI Institute are the lead education and public outreach institutions for the NASA Kepler Mission, which has confirmed almost 1,000 planets outside the Solar System, with thousands more awaiting confirmation! You can access information about the mission's planetary discoveries through the Hall's Planetarium shows, school curricula, and activities, as well as in materials on the NASA Kepler Mission's education website.
Photo courtesy of nasa.gov
The primary Kepler Mission was to find Earth-size planets orbiting other stars in the “habitable zones" of stars—where liquid water, and maybe even life, could exist. The mission has been wildly successful, with several hundred planets discovered, many of them about Earth-size, and many in their stars’ habitable zones, though few with both qualities.
After four years of collecting data from stars in one specific area of the sky, the Kepler spacecraft lost the function of two “reaction wheels” necessary for precisely pointing the Kepler Space Telescope at the target region. The telescope itself is perfectly functional. Kepler engineers and scientists figured out a clever way, using the two remaining reaction wheels, to point the telescope at targets along the band of sky known as the ecliptic, which is where Sun’s orbit appears in the sky. So in May 2014, a new mission, called K2, began that still searches for planets, star clusters, variable stars, and even galaxies.
The Hall's Planetarium now features two new short shows: Searching for Other Earths (about how Kepler discovers planets) and What's in Your Zodiac Sign? (about the new Kepler K2 Mission). Learn about these shows in “Now Showing”" section above.
Kepler's New Universe Video
- Download a free star wheel.
- View Kepler Target Stars.
- Look at real data and help scientists identify planets.
Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt
Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt lets you discover a planet by the “transit method” like what the NASA Kepler Mission used: watching a star and hunting for the tiny drops in brightness that happen when the planet passes (transits) in front it! How many properties of the planet do you think you can know just from a few minuscule dips in brightness?
Download the Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt (SWF ZIP, 2.4 MB)
This is a downloadable flash file and may not work with mobile operating systems.