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John C. Wells Planetarium

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Available Shows

Dates and Show times 

The John C. Wells Planetarium offers free shows for the public every Saturday afternoon from September through the end of June at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Seating begins 15 minutes before show time on a first-come, first-seated basis. The first 2 shows, our family shows, are geared toward families with young children while the last 2 shows, our feature shows, appeals to older children and adults. You can find our schedule here.

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! ALL FREE! 

Please be aware
: The John C. Wells planetarium strives to bring cutting-edge science to JMU as well as to the larger Shenandoah Valley community. Hence, the staff presents established science that is based on consensus from the scientific community. We will present the scientific perspective on topics such as evolution, the Big Bang, age of the Earth, and global warming. All of our full dome shows and live star talks make reference to an age of the Universe that is 13.8 billion years old and that our Sun and the Solar System formed ~5 billions years ago. Our staff will not alter their presentations when discussing what some consider controversial science topics.


A Part of the Sky Called OrionA Part of the Sky Called Orion

The show looks at the big ideas that have guided human understanding of the cosmos and its patterns in the sky. A Part of the Sky Called Orion tells about the Greek, Egyptian, and Inupiaq cultures. We learn how each viewed the same stars, but had different stories and images. Told in first-person in the context of the teller’s life, we experience their ancient star lore and imagery. (26 minutes) View Trailer

Movie Poster Back to the Moon for GoodBack to the Moon For Good

Immerse yourself in a race to the Moon 40 years after the historic Apollo landings. Learn about the history of lunar exploration, and the Moon’s resources. Discover what humanity’s future on the Moon might hold. See how a competition among privately funded international teams is ushering in a new era of lunar exploration. Narrated by Tim Allen, Back To The Moon For Good presents the Google Lunar XPRIZE, and the personal stories of competition and collaboration it inspires. (25 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterBlack Holes: The Other Side of Infinity

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) View Trailer

Chasing the Ghost Particle PosterChasing the Ghost Particle: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe

Deep in the ice at the heart of Antarctica, the biggest and strangest detector in the world waits for mysterious messengers from the cosmos. The detector is IceCube! The messengers are neutrinos -– ghostly particles that give us tantalizing looks into world of exploding stars and black holes. This show tells the incredible story of how an international team of scientists and engineers transformed one billion tons of Antarctic ice into a telescope. Building IceCube was a titanic endeavor driven by our human passion for discovery. Audiences will witness stunning views of the South Pole, captivating animations of the IceCube detectors capturing a neutrino collision–and eye-catching views of the cosmos. Chasing the Ghost Particle: From the South Pole to the Edge of the Universe will take you on a journey you will never forget.(25 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterComets & Discovery

The show takes the viewer on a journey of discovery. We follow two intrepid comet hunters in first-person: one, a modern explorer, the other, Caroline Herschel, the famous 18th century comet huntress that ruled the skies for many generations. With both, we learn how they each searched the skies, made their discoveries, and reported them for other astronomers to bear out. We also learn about what people thought comets were and their importance to them. (20 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterCosmic Castaways

There are places where the night sky has no constellations. No Orion, no Big Dipper, nothing but a few lonely, far away stars and a few faint, ghostly patches of light. Most stars lie within the crowded boundaries of galaxies, travelling with their brothers and sisters in a vast galactic family. But some find themselves on their own, deep within voids between the galaxies. These are the cosmic castaways. Movie Trailer

movie posterDawn Of The Space Age

Re-live the excitement of the early days of space exploration, from the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik, to the magnificent lunar landings and privately operated space flights. Be immersed and overwhelmed with this most accurate historic reconstruction of man's first steps into space. Who were the men and women who took part in these death-defying days? Witness their drive, their passion, and their perseverance to explore in Dawn of the Space Age. (30 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterExoplanets: Worlds of Wonder

Using the latest data from multiple planet-hunting missions including Kepler, ExoPlanets: Worlds Of Wonder follows Mankind's first Space Probe as it journeys outside our solar system to the many new worlds astronomers are discovering beyond. Audiences will explore Gas Giant planets caught in a deadly dance with their host stars, frozen Rogue planets hurling through space, molten rocky worlds now known to science and new planets orbiting within the Goldilocks Zone, the habitable region around a star where Earth-like worlds may exist. View Trailer

movie posterFlight Adventures

Dreams of flying, model aircraft and a young girl and her grandfather come together in this multi-media planetarium show about the science of aeronautics. Learn about famous inventors and aviators of the past and the pioneers who first revealed the 4 forces of flight. See images of aircraft past, present and future and imagine where flight might take us. (22 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterIBEX

Discover how scientists and engineers are using cutting-edge technology to explore the boundary between our solar system and the rest of our galaxy. Learn how the IBEX mission was developed, how the spacecraft was created and how IBEX is collecting high-speed atoms to create a map of our solar system’s boundary in this engaging planetarium show narrated by two inquisitive teenagers and the IBEX scientists and engineers themselves. (Run time: 28 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterIce Worlds

The delicate balance between ice, water and the existence of life has been a topic of exploration and discovery in science for generations. In travels to the Arctic and Antarctic regions of our planet, we'll examine the ecosystems that live and thrive there and see how their survival is connected with our own. Beyond Earth, we'll see how the existence of ice shapes the landscape and the natural systems on other planets and moons in our solar system. (30 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterIn Search of Our Cosmic Origins: The ALMA Planetarium Show

“In Search of our Cosmic Origins” is a popular scientific show, appealing to a wide audience. In it, you will follow our guide, Ariane, on two interwoven journeys, through the Chilean Andes and through the Universe. The show is beautifully presented, with amazing astronomical images and extremely realistic 3D computer renderings. (30 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterLegends of the Night Sky: Orion

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) View Trailer

Magic Tree House: Space MissionMagic Tree House: Space Mission

Travel with the brother-sister duo, Jack and Annie, in their Magic Tree House as they discover a note that asks them to answer a series of six questions about space. With the help of the astronomer, the Internet, an astronaut, books and the writer of the mysterious note, Jack and Annie are taken on a wondrous journey of adventure and learning. This exciting voyage will carry visitors to the planets and far out into the Universe where Jack and Annie nearly get… Well, we don’t want to give it away. The adventure is just beginning! (30 minutes) View Trailer

movie posterMicrocosm:The Adventure Within

At the Center of Miniaturized Medicine in the year 2053, you'll shrink down to the size of a microbe and get injected into a patient who is suffering an infection from a mysterious virus. Produced in cooperation with the University of Utah Medical School, this high-speed immersive adventure is not only exciting, but educational as well. Traveling from the base of the eye to the interior of the heart, you'll explore exotic ports of call in CMM Probe Alpha with its robotic outboard scout vehicle. As you piece together the clues the virus has left behind, you'll race against time to save the patient on your roller-coaster ride through the body. Laser battles, genetic weapons, and lots of surprises along the way, make this a show audiences will want to experience again and again. (17 minutes) View Trailer

Molecularium Movie PosterMolecularium

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Molecularium is an exciting new animation, in a planetarium setting, created to spark interest in the atoms and molecules that constitute our world. Via pioneering digital dome technology, viewers are completely immersed in a captivating virtual world. (20 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterMystery of the Christmas Star

Produced by Evans & Sutherland Digital Theater, Mystery of the Christmas Star allows audiences to journey back 2000 years to Bethlehem in pursuit of a scientific explanation of the star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. This modern retelling of the Christmas story is sure to charm and captivate audiences of all ages. View Trailer

Movie PosterOne World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure 

Follow Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo as they explore the night sky with Hu Hu Zhu, a Muppet from Zhima Jie, the Chinese co-production of Sesame Street. Together, they take an imaginary trip from Sesame Street to the moon, where they discover how different it is from Earth. (27 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterOrigins of Life

Starting with the Big Bang, in chronological order, the show deals with the prebiotic chemistry in the Universe, the formation of stars, formation of solar systems, and the first life on Earth. Furthermore Origins of Life covers the great extinctions as well as our search for (primitive) life beyond our planet. (30 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterPlanetary Visions

Planetary Visions is a fantastic, interactive program that is best described as an adventurous tour of the Solar System. With its whimsical, flying robot main character, Toggle, and the interactivity of the operator with the show and the audience, this is a treat for all who attend. (36 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterSecrets of the Sun 

An intimate look at the role the sun plays in the life of our Solar System. From the nuclear forces churning at the heart of the sun to the mass ejections of solar material into the surrounding space, we will experience the power of the sun and its impact on the planets and ultimately life on Earth. We will trace the life cycle of the sun itself, going back to its beginnings and moving forward in time to its eventual death. (20 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterSeven Wonders

Turn back the pages of time and witness the ancient wonders of the world as they appeared thousands of years ago. Travel to Egypt to visit the Lighthouse of Alexandria and the Great Pyramids, to Persia to see the original Mausoleum, to Babylon to explore the fabled Hanging Gardens, to Greece to tour the Temples of Zeus and Artemis, and to Rhodes to stand in the shadow of the towering Colossus. We will investigate the theories of how these wonders were created, and get a glimpse of some of the universe's greatest wonders. (20 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterStars of the Pharaohs

Travel to ancient Egypt to see how science was used to tell time, make a workable calendar, and align huge buildings. You'll learn about the connection the ancient Egyptians felt with the stars and various astronomical phenomena. And thanks to the time Digital Theater's production team spent on location in Egypt taking photographs and measurements, you'll see some of the most spectacular temples and tombs of the ancient world recreated in their original splendor. (40 minutes) View Trailer

To Space and Back PosterTo Space and Back

Space exploration — our greatest adventure — is having a big impact on our lives. It’s helping us to discover a universe of unimaginable scale and beauty, and it’s reaching down into our world and influencing the way we live. To Space and Back takes audiences on an incredible journey from the far reaches of our known universe to our own planet. It is an extraordinary story of human ingenuity and incredible engineering, describing how the technology that transports us through space is paving the way for the devices and apps we use every day. What’s happening above is coming back down to Earth! Discover how we’ve been changed by space exploration, and what we owe to curiosity and the spirit of discovery. (25 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterTwo Small Pieces of Glass

While attending a local star party, two students learn how the telescope has helped us understand our place in space and how telescopes continue to expand our understanding of the Universe. Their conversation with a local astronomer enlightens them on the history of the telescope and the discoveries these wonderful tools have made. The students see how telescopes work and how the largest observatories in the world use these instruments to explore the mysteries of the universe. While looking through the astronomer's telescope, the students, along with the planetarium audience, explore the Galilean Moons, Saturn's rings, and spiral structure of galaxies. During their conversation with the astronomer, they also learn about the discoveries of Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Hubble and many others. Engaging and appealing to audiences of all ages, Two Small Pieces of Glass traces the history of the telescope from Galileo's modifications to a child's spyglass-using two small pieces of glass-to the launch of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the future of astronomy. It explores the wonder and discovery made by astronomers through out the last 400 years. (Run time: 30 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterUniverse

An historical look at how we have envisioned the universe though the ages. We visit some of the ancient sites where our ancestors erected great structures with special astronomical significance. Finally we look at the universe through the eyes of today's science and space explorers to build up a spectacular overview of the heavens. (20 minutes) View Trailer

Movie PosterWonders of the Universe

Peer deep into space through the eyes of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and travel back billions of years in time to witness the birth of the universe. On this breathtaking excursion you'll witness the formation of galaxies and explore some of the most wondrous nebulae and astronomical structures yet discovered. As your travels continue, you'll fly deep into our own Milky Way galaxy and return home to Earth on a spectacular tour through the solar system. ALSO AVAILABLE IN SPANISH! (20 minutes) View Trailer