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UW Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium

This week at the UW Planetarium

Click here to check out our Current Public Show Schedule: February 2019

Here Comes the Sun: A FREE event at the UW Planetarium

Wednesday February 27th at 6:30 PM

Here comes the Sun: A look at the science and engineering behind NASA’s Parker Solar Probe

Presented by Dr. Bill Rice

The sun has captivated our imaginations and curiosity for millennia.  Considered to be a deity in numerous civilizations and then later the subject of great debates on its position in our solar system to now a critical part of our renewable-energy portfolio, the sun serves a central role in humanity.  In this discussion, Dr. Bill Rice will present an overview of the science behind what makes the sun tick, including still-yet-unresolved questions regarding its structure (e.g., solar corona physics).  Next, Dr. Rice will discuss the goals of NASA’s recently launched Parker Solar Probe mission, as well as the materials engineering behind this impressive spacecraft.  Incredibly, while the Parker Solar Probe will be sent extremely close to the sun (within 20 solar radii), reaching temperatures of 2500°F (1371°C), the measurement instruments on board will stay a reasonable ~70°F (20°C)!  With the probe just reaching its stable trajectory in November 2018, much of the Parker Probe data will be collected and sent throughout 2019, which makes this an exciting time to understand the importance of this mission, its incredible engineering, and how all of it relates to us back on earth.

Purchasing tickets for public shows:

Tickets can be purchased in advance OR at the door.

Purchase tickets online with a credit card.  Please note that online tickets sales close at 4:00pm on the show date (Friday for Saturday shows) and all online tickets are $4, but kids under 5 are still free. Tickets will be available for pickup in the planetarium 20 minutes prior to the show.

To purchase tickets in person in advance:  Tickets can be purchased at the Physics Department main office in Physical Science room 204 Monday through Thursday from 8-5 and Friday from 8 -4 .  We can only accept cash or checks in person.

Finally, tickets can be purchased in the planetarium 20 minutes before the show (cash or check only); $3 for student and $4 for non-students. Tickets for children under 5 are free.

Doors open 20 minutes before show and close when the show starts. There is no admittance once the show starts.

Directions to the Planetarium:

The University of Wyoming Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium is located in the basement of the Physical Science building. Enter the Physical Science building at the SW entrance, go down the stairs and follow the signs pointing to the planetarium.

Physical Science is located at D 10 in the University of Wyoming map

Directions to the STAR Rooftop Observatory:

We open up our STAR Rooftop Observatory every first and third Friday of the month from 8:00pm to 9:30pm.  Feel free to join us anytime, but dress warm as evenings are chilly! The tours will be very informal and you may stay for as long as you like or leave at any time. Tours are FREE.

The University of Wyoming’s STAR Observatory is located on the roof of the Physical Science building. Enter the Physical Science building at the SW entrance, go UP the stairs all the way to the roof.

Are you interested in scheduling a field trip, birthday party, or private show for your group?

Please complete our online survey.

Questions?  Contact us at or (307) 766-6506

About Harry C. Vaughan:

The planetarium has been renamed in honor of the Windy Ridge Foundation’s owner, who was a professor of meteorology in the Iowa State Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences. Vaughn taught courses in meteorology, earth sciences and agronomy there. Before teaching at Iowa State, he worked at the Ames Laboratory.

Upon retirement, Vaughn moved to Laramie, where he befriended a number of faculty members in UW’s Department of Atmospheric Science. He devoted his time to his love of astronomy and built a personal observatory in his backyard to make his own astronomical observations and also mentored UW students.