Visiting the John C. Wells Planetarium
The John C. Wells Planetarium at James Madison University is a $2 million, state-of-the-art, hybrid facility. It hosts both an Evans & Sutherland Digistar 5, a ultra-high resolution digital projection system, and a Goto Chronos opto-mechanical star projector that provides visitors with a superior and realistic night sky. Our digital system allows us to present unique full dome movies as well as project the multi-wavelength universe on the dome. Our Goto Chronos starball allows us to project an authentic night sky for any location on the Earth’s surface. Arguably JMU's flagship community outreach program, the John C. Wells Planetarium welcomes more than 25,000 people visit us each year!
The Planetarium has 72 seats, offers free Saturday public shows, from September thru to the end of June, but is also available for use mid-week by school groups and community groups (i.e., church groups, girl guides/boy scouts, etc.) at no charge by reservation. View our current schedule to determine availability. Fill out the reservation request form to book your group!
Following each full-dome film presentation we will raise our incredible Goto Chronos starball and highlight the Valley sky! We will show you the stars, planets and constellations you can see in your backyard sky later that night! If it is sunny, we will also have our solar telescopes set-up outside! See the Sun as the active, dynamic star that it is instead of the pale yellow dot drawn by kids! Don't miss out on seeing our STAR in a safe way that will leave you mesmerized!
During the academic year, don't miss our monthly public star parties, our montly Science Sunday for Girls events, or our special Public Science talks! This is the public's opprortunity to come on campus, look through our telescopes, and perhaps see our Moon, Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons, Saturn and its majestic rings, binary stars and oh so much more! Public star parties are scheduled for the last Friday of every month. For the budding young scientist or engineer in your family, make sure you know about out summer Space Explorer Camps! We seek to inspire and excite the next generation of American scientists and engineers!
Interested in learning about recent discoveries in astronomy and the impact it has for us down here? Subscribe to "Our Island Universe" podcast via iTunes!
Legends of the night sky: Orion is the world's first traditionally animated full dome movie. Legends takes a fun-filled and imaginative look at the stories and legends about Orion, the great hunter of the winter sky. Legends: Orion is an ideal show for family audiences and younger viewers. Greek mythology will never seem the same once you've seen all this production from AudioVisual and Spitz Creative Media. (24 minutes) See the trailer
There's a place from which nothing escapes, not even light, where time and space literally come to end. It's at this point, inside this fantastic riddle, that black holes exert their sway over the cosmos ... and our imaginations. Zip through other-worldly wormholes, experience the creation of the Milky Way Galaxy, and witness the violent death of a star and subsequent birth of a black hole. Mathematical equations, cutting-edge science, and Einstein's theories fill in holes along the way, providing the most complete picture yet on this mysterious phenomenon. Can you feel the pull? (25 minutes) See the trailer