See also: the Teachers & Group Leaders section of our web site which includes Reservation information, a link to the Planetarium Checklist and more.

2016-2017 Planetarium Programs: General Information

Our programs are designed to meet the needs of students of all ages. The programs support the curriculum of several content areas, but especially science. To assist you in choosing a program, links to specific Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Science are provided next to the program descriptions below.

There are two basic categories that programs can be placed into: interactive, and automated multimedia. In addition, planetarium staff can offer Planetarium Labs and Custom Designed Programs to meet the needs of your students.

  • Interactive programs are live presentations in which the planetarium instructor and the students would typically explore a certain subject using the star projector and other projectors. The following concepts are especially suited for this type of program: day/night, phases of the moon, Earth motions, planetary motions, constellation recognition, and studying the current sky.
  • Automated Multimedia programs offer a stimulating array of visuals augmented by a recorded sound track. In addition, there is usually time after the program which can be tailored to suit your needs. If one of these programs fits what you teach, they can be an excellent addition to your curriculum.
  • Planetarium Labs are astronomy activities which take advantage of the capabilities of the planetarium technology to engage the students in concepts which are difficult to visualize elsewhere.
  • Custom Designed Programs are developed when existing programs can't be modified to meet the needs of the students. Our goal is always to meet the astronomy and space science related needs of your students. Most of our existing programs can be adapted to meet your specific needs. But if you have a special way that you would like to utilize the planetarium as part of your curriculum, we enthusiastically invite you to work with the planetarium staff to design an experience specifically for your students. (For Non-Madison groups, an $18/half-hour planning fee may apply.) This offer is subject to time availability, and aesthetically it may lack some of the smoothness and cohesion of a polished program.

Interactive Program Descriptions

Program information (abbrev. show title)Wisconsin Science StandardsNGSS Performance Expectations
Skywatching
Teachers Guide Available (all levels, 1-hour program)
Become a Skywatcher by exploring the current night sky. Locate visible planets and constellations, and enjoy some sky lore. This show can be adapted to all grade levels and can include specific topics of your choice such as day/night, phases of the moon, seasons, light pollution, and more. If this program will be fulfilling part of a scout badge (ex.: Brownies, Junior Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts, Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, etc.), please let us know the level and name of the badge so that we can review the requirements before the program.
E.4.4,6
B.8.3
1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1
5-ESS1-1
5-ESS1-2
MS-ESS1-1
Nightwatchers
Teachers Guide Available (grades k-1, 1-hour program)
As the planetarium sky slowly changes from day to night, delve into the night-life as we explore the daytime sky, the concepts of day and night, the night-time sky, and nocturnal animals. This program fits well with an interdisciplinary "nighttime" unit.
E.4.4, 6 1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1
Moonwatch 1
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-3, 1-hour program)
This is the first of two programs which are designed to introduce and wrap-up your moon observation unit. Use Moonwatch 1 before your students start observing the moon. Moonwatch 1 teaches the students how to observe the moon, raises questions about when and where we will be able to see the moon and what it will look like, and introduces the students to observing the moon with telescopes and traveling to the moon (Apollo program). The ideal situation would be to include both programs (Moonwatch 1 and 2) in your unit. See our Daytime Moon Calendar for information about observing the moon, and daytime observations. This program supports the FOSS Air and Weather module.
E.4.4
E.4.6
1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1
Moonwatch 2
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-3, 1-hour program)
This is the second of two programs which are designed to introduce and wrap-up your moon observation unit. Use Moonwatch 2 after your students have finished observing the moon. See our Daytime Moon Calendar and the teachers guide for information about observing the moon, and daytime observations. Moonwatch 2 summarizes their observations, shows the changes in the planetarium sky, delves deeper into the Apollo program, and introduces the students to the other moons in our solar system. The first part of the program focuses on reporting your observations. It is recommended that teachers bring the class calendar or record with them to this program. Teachers have the option of preparing the students to make a brief presentation which summarizes their observations. (See the Teachers Guide for more information about the report.) The ideal situation would be to include both programs (Moonwatch 1 and 2) in your unit. This program supports the FOSS Air and Weather module.
E.4.4
E.4.6
1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1
Home Sweet Home 1
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-2, 1-hour program)
This program is designed to help students learn to make observations of the Sun and Moon during the day, looking for patterns which would help them to make predictions. We explore changes in the Sun's path throughout the year, looking for more patterns and making predictions along the way. Students then apply what they've learned in the daytime sky to observations and predictions of changes they can see in the night sky. We learn how to find planets and a few star patterns in the current sky in order to practice observing changes in the real sky.
E.4.4
E.4.6
1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1
4-PS4-2
Home Sweet Home 2
Teachers Guide Available (grades 3-5, 1-hour program)
This program takes you to a deeper understanding of our home planet as part of larger systems; such as the Earth and Moon system, Solar System, and the Milky Way Galaxy. Concepts related to the Earth's motions (day/night, seasonal constellations, changes in the apparent path of the sun) are addressed. This program matches well with the FOSS "Sun, Moon, Stars" module for grades 3-4 and NGSS ESS performance expectations for 5th grade.
E.4.4
E.4.6
E.8.7
E.8.8

1-ESS1-1
1-ESS1-2
4-PS4-2
5-ESS1-1
5-ESS1-2
Hunting for Rocks in the Solar System 
(grades 2-5, 1-hour program)
Get the "big picture" on rocks and minerals! Explore the Solar System in search for rocks! Featuring astronauts collecting rock samples on the moon, photos of Mercury, photos of the rocky surface of Venus, show how the rovers on Mars are studying the rocks there, explore asteroids, and even examine rocks made out of water on Saturn's moon, Titan. Your students will apply and expand their understanding of rocks and minerals in ways that are out of this world! This program supports the FOSS Earth Materials module.
E.4.1-4
E.8.1,5,7
4-ESS1-1
Rocks on Other Worlds
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Do the same processes that form and change rocks on Earth take place on other worlds? In this program, we examine data gathered by orbiting spacecraft, landers, and rovers to answer that question. Students will apply what they know about weathering, erosion, deposition, and rock types as they strive to unlock the same mysteries that planetary geologists are wrestling with today -- unraveling the geologic history of other worlds. This program fits best toward the end of a unit on the rock cycle (formation and evolution of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock).
E.4.1-4
E.8.1-5
E.12.3
4-ESS1-1
MS-ESS2-2
MS-ESS2-1
Cosmic Perspectives
Teachers Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
In a current sky setting, explore the structure of the solar system, galaxies, and the universe as we find our place in the cosmos. Students will explore concepts related to the Earth's motions (day/night, seasonal constellations, changes in the apparent path of the sun), as well as changes in the moon's position and appearance. Patterns in changes seen over time will also be addressed. This program supports the FOSS Planetary Science middle school unit.
E.4.4
E.4.6
E.8.7
E.8.8


5-ESS1-1

5-ESS1-2
MS-ESS1-1
MS-ESS1-2

Books and Stories of the Night
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-3, 1-hour program)
Books and clear night skies have at least one thing in common -- they capture the imagination. This interdisciplinary program explores the night sky, and nighttime as guided by several children's books. Concepts addressed in the program include day & night, nocturnal animals, current night sky (constellations and planets), the moon, and our place in the universe.
E.4.4
E.4.6
1-ESS1-1
5-ESS1-1
Solar System Update
Teachers Guide Available (grades 3-adult, 1-hour program)
How are we currently exploring the solar system? What have scientists learned recently about our solar system? Where are the space probes now? Is Pluto a planet? Learn the answer to these questions and more as we explore the planets in our current sky. Note: this program is intended for groups that have already learned the basic characteristics of objects in the solar system before they visit the planetarium.
E.4.4
B.4.3
B.8.1-2
4-ESS1-1
MS-ESS1-3
MS-ESS2-2
MS-ESS2-1
Galaxies!  
(grades 4-adult, 1-hour program)
Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes. Students explore how galaxies are categorized, what they contain, how they form and evolve over time, and how they can actually help with research on galaxies. Students to know their own place in the Milky Way Galaxy, and it's relationship to nearby galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy is heading toward us right now! Should we be worried?
E.8.7
5-ESS1-1

MS-ESS1-2
Living and Working in Space
(grades 3-adult, 1-hour program)
Discover what life would be like to live in space aboard the International Space Station. Learn about this orbital laboratory, how the astronauts get to the space station, and how they deal with things like eating, sleeping, and moving around in a "microgravity" environment. Students will also learn when they can go out and see the space station pass over their location.
G.4.1
H.4.1
G.8.1-2
 
Space Exploration
(grades 3-adult, 1-hour program)
Discover what life would be like in space by tracing the history of manned space flight from Project Mercury through today.
G.4.1
H.4.1
G.8.1-2
 
US History and Space Exploration  
(grades HS-adult, 1-hour program)
The Space Race was an important part of modern U.S. History. Trace the history of space exploration from the development of the V2 rockets at the end of WWII, through the race to the Moon, to current events in human and unmanned exploration of space. Connections are developed between the space program, our culture, and the ways our lives are affected by technology developed for and by NASA (spin-offs). This program connects nicely to a high school Social Studies Modern U.S. History course. [Supporting Social Studies Standards: B.12.9,10; D.12.4]
G.4.1
H.4.1
G.8.1-2
 
Astronomy in the Scientific Revolution   
(grades HS-adult, 1-hour program)
Modern science emerged out of a time when developments in natural and physical science transformed views of the world around us and our place in the universe. Fast-forward through time using the planetarium’s simulated sky to explore the observations that became the foundations of early theories. Starting in the Renaissance era, renewed scrutiny brought refined observations and new theories. Delve into the evolving models of how the cosmos works as we explore this time in history. This program supports a high school Modern Europe study of this time period we refer to as the Scientific Revolution. [Supporting Social Studies Standards: A.12.10; B.12.10; E.12.11]
B.4.3
B.8.1,2
E.4.4,6
E.8.7,8
Nature of Science:
Scientific knowledge is open to revision in light of new evidence
Follow the Drinking Gourd
Teacher's Guide Available (grades 1-4, 1-hour program)
Through this interdisciplinary program, students explore the concepts of day and night, rising and setting motions, constellations, and seasonal changes as they discover how slaves may have used the Drinking Gourd (Big Dipper) and a song to find their way to freedom. This show is based on the children's book and the folk song by the same title. Bring your singing voices!
E.4.4, 6 1-ESS1-2
5-ESS1-2
Mythology
(grades 4-12, 1-hour program)
People all over the world have always connected the sky to their culture. Explore the constellations and learn how they fit into myths from around the world. The program is set up to concentrate on Roman and Greek mythology, but can be adapted to include more of Native American and Chinese mythology. See also SkyTellers.
B.4.3
B.8.3
5-ESS1-2
Our Star, The Sun
Teachers Guide Available (grades 3-adult, 1-hour program)
The Sun is vital to life on Earth, yet most people don't know very much about it. It's so bright that we can't look at it, but this program will show you what the Sun looks like today. Learn about the Sun as a middle-sized active star, and stars in general. Explore why the Sun is so hot, why it is so important to us, and why it is so important for us to study it. Try to schedule extra time to safely look at the Sun outside here at the planetarium using special glasses and telescopes! (Weather permitting.)
E.4.4
E.12.1

F.4.1

5-ESS1-1

HS-ESS1-2
HS-ESS1-3
Shakespeare's Star-Cross'd Lovers    
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Examine the way William Shakespeare and his audience understood the structure of the universe, and how that understanding affected the astronomical and astrological references in his play, Romeo and Juliet. Explore why the zodiac constellations seem special, learn about Shakespeare's contemporary astronomers, and compare the competing geocentric and heliocentric theories. All this is done under a simulated current night sky, which also helps us to understand Shakespeare's use of stars and the night sky when describing beauty. This program connects well to high school English classes.

B.4.2
B.4.3
B.8.1
B.8.2
E.8.7
E.8.8

 
Energy from Stars
Teachers Guide Available (grades 9-12, 1-hour program)
Explore the source of the energy that drives our weather and the carbon cycle--the sun. How can so much energy be released for so long? Exploration leads us through fusion, stellar formation and evolution.
E.12.1
D.12.3
D.12.12
HS-ESS1-1
HS-ESS1-3

Reservation Information


Automated Program Descriptions

Program information (abbrev. show title)Wisconsin Science Standards AddressedNGSS DCIs

The Friendly Stars
(pre-school, 4-5 years old; 45-minute program)
Our sun, Sol, takes us on an interactive, entertaining tour of the Sun, Solar System and the daytime sky, and the friendly stars guide us through the night sky. We sing, explore, and laugh our way through this non-threatening introduction to the planetarium and things we can see in the sky.

E.4.4,6 1-PS4-2

Zubenelgenubi's Magic Sky
Teachers Guide Available (Kindergarten; 45-minute program*)
Join the planetarium staff and talking a telephone pole and fire hydrant on a whimsical journey through the day and night sky where your students use imaginary paint brushes to "paint" objects up in the sky. (*Note that this program can be extended to a 60-minute program if that matches your students' needs and abilities.)

E.4.4,6 1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1

Our Place in Space
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-2, 1-hour program)
Help a macaw named Scarlet solve a crossword puzzle about where we live in space. Exploration starts on Earth (day/night), and goes through the solar system, and beyond.

E.4.4, 6 1-PS4-2
1-ESS1-1

SkyTellers
Teachers Guide Available (grades 1-adult, 1-hour program)
SkyTellers is actually a series of programs. Each program includes a Native American story (told by a Native storyteller), and a "science story" (scientific explanation) for a specific topic or concept. Our plan for this show is that you would choose one program (best) or two (possible) which we will focus on and explore in the context of the current sky. NOTE: when making a reservation for this program, specify the content choice in the Comments section of the Reservation Request Form. See the teachers guide for content/story options, activities, and more information in general.

B.4.3
B.8.1-4
5-ESS1-2

Solar System Adventure Tour
Teachers Guide Available (grades 2-3, 1-hour program)
In this humorous, informative show, students become participating planetary scientists on a mission past all of the planets.

E.4.4
B.4.3
 
Cosmic Colors   
(grades 5-adult, 1-hour program) 
Get ready for an amazing adventure across the entire electromagnetic spectrum -- discovering the reasons for color, journeying inside the human eye, using x-rays to explore black holes and bones, and more!
D.8.8
E.8.7

5-ESS1-1

Point of No Return: Quasars and Supermassive Black Holes
Teacher's Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
This program introduces us to the most powerful steady sources of energy in the universe -- quasars! Travel with us through time and space to explore these brilliant beacons, and the supermassive black holes that power them. Following the 23-minute pre-recorded portion of the program, we have time for further exploration of the topics, questions, and exploring the current night sky.

B.8.1
D.8.5-9
E.8.7
B.12.1

D.12.8-12
MS-ESS1-2

Dark Matters   
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
The matter that we learn about in Chemistry class makes up less than 5% of the mass of the universe! Join us as we explore what we know and don't know about the rest. Join us as we explore these new fields of Physics and Astronomy called Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

B.8.1-2
D.8.2
D.8.5-10
E.8.7
D.12.8-12

HS-ESS1-2

Stargazer
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Learn about the lives of stars and astronomers as Dr. James Kaler shares his excitement about the fast-moving field of stellar evolution. Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from the original "Star Trek") and Dr. Kaler narrate this personal look at gravity, light, and the spectrum and how they help us, and scientists of the past, to decipher the lifestyles of the stars.

B.8.1
D.8.8-9
B.12.1

5-ESS1-1
MS-ESS1-2
HS-ESS1-1
HS-ESS1-3

StarDate: Ancient Horizons
Teacher's Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program*)
Investigate the ancient Egyptian view of order and the cosmos, with information on mythology and constellations, the creation of the calendar, and a struggle involving the concept of the sun. (*20 minute pre-recorded program plus interactive options)

B.12.1,3
E.12.3
 

More Than Meets the Eye
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Take a tour of the night sky as seen through the unaided eye, and discover the hidden treasures of the universe as revealed by binoculars and various sizes of telescopes.

E.8.7
5-ESS1-1
5-ESS1-2

 


Planetarium Labs

Program information (abbrev. show title)Wisconsin Science Standards AddressedNGSS DCIs

Seasons
Teacher's Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Chart the changing path of the sun as you explore the “reasons for the seasons.” Students face their own misconceptions as they explore evidence about the changing length and height of the sun's path. As time allows, modeling demonstrations are used to show why these changes occur.

E.8.8
A.12.6
5-ESS1-2
MS-ESS1-1
MS-ESS2-6

Spectroscopy
(grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Spectroscopy is the study of light. By studying the light from stars, planets, and galaxies, we can discover what they are made up of, their surface temperature, and more. This lab starts by exploring the variety of colors of stars in the night sky, and progresses to determining which gases are emitting light by studying its bright line spectrum. NOTE: students should bring pencils.

D.8.8-9
5-ESS1-1

Strange Planets   
Teachers Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Do planets outside of our Solar System exist? How do we detect them? Could any of them be habitable? Students will grapple with these questions, and the challenges posed by interstellar distances as they analyze data in search of Earth-like "extrasolar planets." Special attention is given to the Kepler mission. This program supports the FOSS Planetary Science middle school unit.

E.4.4
E.4.6
E.8.7
E.8.8

5-ESS1-1
MS-ESS1-2
MS-ESS1-3
HS-ESS1-4

Moon Motions
Teachers Guide Available (grades 6-adult, 1-hour program)
Discover the motions of the moon as only a planetarium projector can do. How does the moon move throughout one day or night; or a week; or a month? What causes the phases of the moon? Does the moon rotate? How do eclipses occur? Search for the answers to these questions and more.

E.8.8 MS-ESS1-1

Light Pollution
(grades 3-adult, 1-hour program)
Learn the scientific technique of "sampling" in order to count the stars in the planetarium sky. By simulating rural and urban conditions, students can be introduced to the problem of light pollution. Solutions and benefits to fighting it are presented. (or call to do as homework outside!)

H.4.1, 4
H.8.1-3
G.12.3-5
H.12.1-7
 

Reservation Information


Custom Designed Programs

If the offerings listed above do not serve the needs of your students, you are invited to work with the planetarium staff to design a unique program which will fit into your curriculum. Extra planning for a Non-Madison program may be subject to a $18 per half-hour fee. Contact the planetarium staff for more information.

Reservation Information