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 every 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!
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. See the trailer
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. See the trailer