By Maren McInnes
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Ever wanted to make tornadoes, see how hot you really are, walk on the moon, get sucked into a black hole (safely, of course), or swim with humpback whales? Then the Clark Planetarium in downtown Salt Lake City is the place for you.
The planetarium has two theaters: the ATK IMAX, which features 3D documentaries on a giant screen, and the Hansen Dome, which features most of the space films, live presentations, and cosmic laser light shows set to music. Currently there are 15 shows playing between the theaters. If you like animals, one of the three animal shows—humpback whales, lemurs, and pandas—in IMAX could be a good option. Want to learn more about space? Then check out IMAX’s Hidden Universe, Black Holes or Dark Universe in the Hansen Dome. You may have gone stargazing, but how about stargazing with an expert? Gateway to the Stars and Night Vision are presentations of the night sky in the Hansen Dome led by planetarium staff. If you are bringing kids, Accidental Astronauts or Perfect Little Planet could keep their attention while informing them about space. If you are in a music mood, check out one of the four laser light shows.
While you are waiting for your show to start or after the credits roll, explore the hands-on science experiments on the first and second floors. You can learn how clouds and tornadoes work by playing with dry ice smoke; experiment with how different lenses reflect and refract light in telescopes; play with a plasma ball; see yourself in infrared; and traipse across Mars or the moon. These exhibits are all free.
“Our main mission is to excite and inspire people of all ages about space, science, and life long learning,” said Duke Johnson, the education and exhibits manager at the planetarium. “We try to provide experiences that you can’t have at home,” he said.
You don’t need to be a trained astronaut to visit deep space, thanks to this 3D documentary full of real images obtained by the most powerful telescopes in the world. In 40 minutes, you will explore Mars, view galaxies created billions of years ago, witness the birthplace of stars, and see the remnants of exploded stars.
Dive into this 3D experience and swim with the largest animals on Earth—the humpback whales. Listen to them sing and communicate. Watch them play and take care of their young. This 40-minute documentary follows a team of scientists and rescuers to Alaska, Hawaii, and Tonga, as they discover the world of these whales.
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
You may have seen them “move it” in the movie Madagascar, but you may not have seen them like in IMAX 3D. The ancestors of lemurs were roaming with the dinosaurs, but now the amazingly evolved little creatures are endangered. Follow a team of scientists as they work to help protect the lemurs of Madagascar. Also, this 40-minute documentary is narrated by Morgan Freeman.
Pandas: The Journey Home
Travel to the mountains of China to meet the most lovable animals in the world—pandas. Filmed by National Geographic, this 45-minute documentary follows the work of the Wolong Panda Conservation Centre in China to re-introduce pandas born in captivity to their natural habitats.
How much do you know about black holes? Did you know that they have the energy of a billion suns? Or that not even light can escape from being sucked in? Did you know that scientists are still making discoverys too? But they are getting much closer to an understanding of black holes. Travel though this 35-minute immersive experience that uses 3D visual effects to teach us more about black holes.
Around 13.8 billion years ago, the universe was born. It has been expanding and evolving ever since—and we know very little about it. This 35-minute experience, travel through the cosmos and learn about invisible dark matter that underlies the galaxies. This virtual presentation is accompanied by a live prologue featuring a look at the night sky and a 3D trip through space.
Gateway to the Stars
This 45-minute show is a live astronomy presentation recommended for ages 7 and up. Stargaze with Mike Murray and learn about observation and observing techniques for the current night sky. Only $2.
You don’t need night vision goggles to see the cosmos in a new way if you come to this live, interactive presentation. This 45-minute show features special weekly topics and is guided by museum staff. For upcoming topics, visit clarkplanetarium.org/shows/night-vision/. Only $2.
This 33-minute film will take you on a journey through space and time to tour the universe—see stars, nebulas, galaxies, and learn about them in this 3D immersive experience.
Join two accidental astronauts on their unexpected journey to space. Explore the moon, experience a solar storm, and learn more about Earth. This 35-minute film is great for kids.
Perfect Little Planet
Follow an extra-terrestrial family on their search for the ideal vacation location. They come to our solar system and explore the planets we know. See these familiar planets through their eyes. This 35-minute film is especially good for young viewers.
Cosmic Light Shows
Dark Side of the Moon
This light show is 43 minutes and features Pink Floyd. Ages 8 and up are recommended for this show.
This laser show features Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, Taylor Swift, Owl City, Maroon 5 and many more big artists. It is 40 minutes and great for all ages.
Unsurprisingly, this show features the classics of Led Zeppelin. It is 40 minutes and also good for all ages.
Rock On Demand
For a more interactive experience, check out this show. You as the audience get to choose the music from the planetarium’s growing library of classic rock. It is open to all ages and 45 minutes.
$9 for adults
$7 children under 12
$7 for shows before 5 pm
For show schedules visit: http://clarkplanetarium.org/shows-and-exhibits/schedule/