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Available Full Dome 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 Saturday public show 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 note: 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 may consider controversial science topics.

TEACHERS: Please review our NEW VA SOLs show information guide for help in selecting a program for your class!

Ancient Skies

Ancient Skies 

For thousands of years the Neolithic civilisation of Europe constructed ever more complex stone monuments. Initially dismissed as “illiterate barbarians,” only recently has a radical reappraisal taken place, giving birth to the new science of Archaeo-Astronomy.

Far from being “savages” the Neolithic were highly intelligent, integrating a spiritual world view with extraordinarily skilled feats of engineering and astronomy, laying the foundations of modern science.

ANCIENT SKIES features timelapse, CGI, never-before-seen alignment events, and interviews with the some of the most respected academics in the field to explore this fascinating subject and the enduring popularity of the legacy of our ancestors.

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A Part of the Sky Called Orion

A 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.

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Movie Poster Back to the Moon for Good

Back 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) 

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Black 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) 

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The Case of the Disappearing Planet

THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING PLANET looks into the changing status of objects we call "planets". It not only covers Pluto, but the temporary planetary status of asteroids as well. The tally of planets in our Solar System has been going up and down for hundreds of years! Have fun with this program as it features a sly, street-smart gumshoe called Skye Watcher. After a frenzied phone call from a 3rd grade teacher, she collects clues to find out what happened to Pluto. (25 minutes) 

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Chasing 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) 

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Comets & 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) 

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Cosmic 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. 

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Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph is a 28-minute fulldome look at the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph instrument installed on the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009 during Servicing Mission 4, as well as the science behind its utility.

The show covers the basics of spectroscopy at a high level, and touches on the processing of galactic and extragalactic gas. Other topics include the use of quasars as background light sources, cosmic evolution, and the development of large scale structure. (28 mins) 

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DARK Understanding Dark Matter

DARK: Understanding Dark Matter

DARK is a fulldome movie that explains and explores the nature of dark matter, the missing 80% of the mass of the Universe.

The search for dark matter is the most pressing astrophysical problem of our time – the solution to which will help us understand why the Universe is as it is, where it came from, and how it has evolved over billions of years – the unimaginable depths of deep time, of which a human life is but a flickering instant. But in that instant, we can grasp its immensity and, through science, we can attempt to understand it. (20 minutes) 

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Dawn 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) 

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Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth

DYNAMIC EARTH explores the inner workings of Earth’s great life support system: the global climate. With visualizations based on satellite monitoring data and advanced supercomputer simulations, this cutting-edge production follows a trail of energy that flows from the Sun into the interlocking systems that shape our climate: the atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere.

Audiences will ride along on swirling ocean and wind currents, dive into the heart of a monster hurricane, come face-to-face with sharks and gigantic whales, and fly into roiling volcanoes. (30 minutes) 

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Earth, Moon and Sun

Earth, Moon and Sun

This planetarium show explores the relationship between the Earth, Moon and Sun with the help of Coyote, an amusing character adapted from Native American oral traditions who has many misconceptions about our home planet and its most familiar neighbors.

His confusion about the universe makes viewers think about how the Earth, Moon and Sun work together as a system. Native American stories are used throughout the show to help distinguish between myths and science. (35 minutes) 

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Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness features amazing scenes of places never before seen gathered by key space missions that culminated with groundbreaking discoveries in 2015. It features a spectacular flight though the great cliffs on comet 67P, a close look at the fascinating bright "lights" on Ceres, and the first ever close ups of dwarf binary planet Pluto/Charon and its moons. Narrated by Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter, from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the ABC television series. (30 minutes) 

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Dynamic Earth

Exploring New Horizons

"Exploring New Horizons" explores the New Horizons spacecraft and its mission to dwarf planet Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects. The show also exhibits the importance of the scientific method and how it applies to our understanding of the Solar System. Starting from ancient times, learn about the history of planetary discovery, especially that of Pluto, and how it has led to an amazing mission to explore the Kuiper Belt. (25 minutes) 

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Exoplanets: 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.  (25 minutes) 

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Flight 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) 

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From Earth to the Universe

From Earth to the Universe

The night sky, both beautiful and mysterious, has been the subject of campfire stories, ancient myths and awe for as long as there have been people. A desire to comprehend the Universe may well be humanity’s oldest shared intellectual experience. Yet only recently have we truly begun to grasp our place in the vast cosmos. To learn about this journey of celestial discovery, from the theories of the ancient Greek astronomers to today’s grandest telescopes, we invite you to experience From Earth to the Universe. This stunning, 30-minute voyage through space and time conveys, through sparkling sights and sounds, the Universe revealed to us by science. Viewers can revel in the splendour of the worlds in the Solar System and our scorching Sun. From Earth to the Universe takes the audience out to the colourful birthplaces and burial grounds of stars, and still further out beyond the Milky Way to the unimaginable immensity of a myriad galaxies. Along the way, the audience will learn about the history of astronomy, the invention of the telescope, and today’s giant telescopes that allow us to probe ever deeper into the Universe. (30 minutes) 

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IBEX

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. (28 minutes) 

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Ice 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) 

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In 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) 

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Legends 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) 

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Perseus and Andromeda

Legends of the Night Sky: Perseus and Andromeda

Perseus and Andromeda is a fun-filled retelling of the tale of the beautiful but unfortunate princess Andromeda, who in divine punishment for her mother’s bragging, is sacrificed to a sea monster—and rescued by the Greek hero Perseus. Greek mythology will never seem the same once you've seen all this production from AudioVisual and Spitz Creative Media. (20 minutes)

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Magic Tree House: Space Mission

Magic 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) 

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The Making of a Star and Her Entourage

The Making of a Star and Her Entourage

The Making of a Star and Her Entourage traces the evolution of humankind’s understanding of the universe. Discover the long journey beginning with the Earth-centered model of the universe in which the Sun was considered a planet to our current understanding that the Sun is a star centered in the Solar System and is one of billions that reside in the Milky Way. (30 minutes) 

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Microcosm: 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) 

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Molecularium

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) 

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Mystery 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. (30 minutes) 

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One 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) 

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Origins 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) 

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Planetary 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) 

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Polaris The Space Submarine and the Mystery of the Polar Night

Polaris: The Space Submarine and the Mystery of the Polar Night 

James, a traveling penguin from the South Pole, and Vladimir, a funny bear from the North Pole, meet on the Arctic sea ice. They become friends, talk about their respective regions and observe the stars together, wondering why the night is so long at the poles of the Earth. Novice astronomers, they are trying to solve this mystery by reasoning and observation.

Thanks to the rigor of James and the inventive genius of Vladimir, their scientific adventure leads them to build an observatory and then an improvised spaceship. During a trip around the Earth, extended to Mars and Saturn, they get their answer and discover that the planets have similarities but also differences. (30 minutes) 

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Secrets 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) 

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Seven 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) 

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Stars 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) 

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Sunstruck: Exploration of the Sun

Sunstruck: Exploring the Sun

Explore the sun in all its glory in this fulldome show. Sunstruck! takes us on a journey to discover the wonders of our magnificent star and investigate how it has supported life on Earth for millennia. This program includes information on the structure of the sun, the source of its energy, and how solar activity impacts our world. Located in the center of our solar system, our Sun is an average star. Learn about its mass, gases, temperatures and energy… and its fate in the far distant future. (21 minutes) 

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This is Our Sky

This is Our Sky

This is Our Sky! is a general astronomy show that targets 3rd grade, with elements of interest spanning Preschool to 6th Grade. Join Luna and her friends for an exploration of the sky, phases of the Moon, seasons, constellations, and planets. 

Show Topics: Horizon, Apparent Motion of the Sky, Phases of the Moon, Seasons, Constellations, and the Solar System. 

Show Duration: 20 Minutes 

Target Audience: Ages 4 - 10

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To 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) 

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Two 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. (30 minutes) 

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Universe

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) 

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Wonders 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) 

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