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John C. Wells Planetarium

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Astronomy Park Star Party

Public Star Parties

Monthly star parties, Sept thru April, at JMU's Astronomy Park. Located on the meadow behind the Physics/Chemistry building on JMU's campus east of I-81.

Spectators watching Planetarium show

FREE Shows EVERY Saturday

Join us every Saturday, Sept. thru June, at 11am, 1pm, 2:15pm & 3:30pm. All seats are FREE and are available on a first come, first seated basis.

Using a sun spotter during space camp

Space Explorers Camp

Two week-long summer Space Explorers camps in July! A residential explorers camp from July 12 to July 18, and a day Space Explorers camp from July 27 to July 31.

Sun's surface

See Our Star Safely!

On Saturdays, weather permitting, the planetarium provides special solar telescopes for looking at the Sun. Come see our Sun like you've never seen it before!

Shows Every Saturday

Join Our Mailing List!

Add yourself to our mailing list to be the first to learn of special events taking place at the Planetarium!

John C. Wells Planetarium

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, the only one of its kind in the world. 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.

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! The planetarium is also available for private functions (i.e., weddings, birthday parties, etc.). Please email the planetarium director for further details.


Following each full-dome film presentation on Saturdays at 11am, 1pm, 2:15pm & 3:30pm, 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! 

During the academic year, don't miss our monthly public star parties! 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!

Saturday Matinées

One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure
John C. Wells Planetarium
Saturdays at 11am AND 1pm

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) See the trailer

In Search of Our Cosmic Origins
John C. Wells Planetarium
Saturdays at 2:15pm AND 3:30pm

About 400 years ago, in Padua, Italy, Galileo observed the sky with a new instrument, the telescope, and our view of the world was transformed. Now, follow the young astronomer Ariane in the show "In search of our Cosmic Origins" to discover how astronomers are continuing Galileo¿s quest to understand the Universe. Ariane takes us on a journey from ALMA's unique site high in Chile's Atacama region, through our Milky Way and onward to some of the most distant galaxies, seen as they were in the early Universe. Closer to home, we learn about the formation of stars and planets, and how ALMA will help us answer questions about our origins. ALMA is the leading telescope for observing the cool Universe, the relic radiation of the Big Bang, and the molecular gas and dust that constitute the building blocks of stars, planetary systems, galaxies, and life itself. ALMA is managed right here in Virginia by National Radio Astronomy Observatory! See the trailer


Common astronomical misconceptions debunked on our YouTube channel.


More Shows

  • Aug 20: First Public Star Party is Sept 26
  • Sep 6: Sesame Street's One World One Sky Returns to the JMU Planetarium!
  • Sep 6: In Search of Our Cosmic Origins at the JMU Planetarium!
  • Sep 26: Public Star at JMU's Astronomy Park on September 26!

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