By Scott D. Young, Planetarium Astronomer
Why are people fascinated by the stars? Perhaps because we see ourselves reflected in them. The rotation of the Earth defines our days with the rising and setting of the Sun. Every culture throughout history has drawn its hopes and dreams in the night sky, developing its own constellations to help track the seasons. These cycles have defined the human experience throughout time, and the sight of a dark, starry sky still evokes wonder and awe.
The Manitoba Museum Planetarium is a space theatre, but really, it’s a starting point, a gateway to a life-long enjoyment of the natural world around us, with encouraging and enthusiastic guides to help you along the way. Planetarium visitors begin a friendship with the stars, which leads to a better understanding and appreciation of their place in the universe.
The Planetarium helps make science accessible and immersive, something you can do instead of something you hear about online. Manitoba Museum Planetarium visitors have gone on to win international science fairs, make astronomical discoveries, and even become Canadian astronauts. It’s not really about learning to find the Big Dipper – it’s about learning that the universe is predictable through the tools that science gives us. The Planetarium reminds us all that we can be active explorers of an amazing universe that is all around us and that we all have a role to play in its preservation.
Throughout history, people worldwide have looked at the same stars we see tonight, seeing the same Moon, the same planets. The sky truly is universal in its appeal. The stars bring people together. Across Manitoba and around the world, when pandemic restrictions shut down most events, the pastime of stargazing exploded in popularity. People were outside in socially-distanced groups or their household “bubbles,” looking at the constellations, tracking down the planets, watching for meteors and northern lights.
Pictured, right: [email protected] fans, Sébastien and Geneviève, learned how to explore the sky from their own backyard.
The Planetarium experienced a temporary closure early in the pandemic but quickly developed a way to bring our content online. Virtual field trips to the Planetarium started just three weeks after the closure, with schools connecting remotely to our DIGISTAR planetarium system. Our weekly astronomy show, [email protected], began in January 2021 and still runs live Thursday evenings. [email protected] provided families in isolation a way to explore together and be under the same stars at the same time.
Now the Planetarium has re-opened its domed theatre, eager to see the enthusiastic faces of visitors! The Planetarium will launch a brand-new feature show beginning December 26, Magic Globe. This full-dome experience will take you on a journey to explore the seasons as you never have before.
When you purchase tickets to the Planetarium, you’re not only embarking on an out-of-this-world experience, you’re also supporting the educational programming, events, and experiences that have been engaging Manitobans and making memories since 1968.