In 2018, the Chesapeake Planetarium will celebrate its 55th year of operation. Construction funds for the planetarium were provided by the Chesapeake School Board as a result of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). It was the first planetarium constructed in Virginia by a public school system. It was designed as a teaching aid for the school system, but has been made available to the general public as well. More than 50,000 students and adults visit the planetarium each year to view educational programs.
The Chesapeake Planetarium is located in the Chesapeake Municipal Center. It is easily reached by taking Interstate 64 and exiting at the Battlefield Boulevard South Exit (Rt. 168). Follow Route 168 to Great Bridge and turn right onto Cedar Road (Rt. 165).The Municipal Center is one-fourth mile on the right.
On Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m., the general public is invited to attend free programs. These programs are provided as a free service of the Chesapeake Public School System. Topics for these programs change every month and are educational in nature. They are designed to give the individual a general overview of astronomy.
* It is recommended that children below the first grade level not be admitted to the planetarium chamber. All quiet children are welcome.
Due to limited seating, reservations are necessary and may be made by telephoning Chesapeake Public Schools between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. weekdays. (757-547-0153)
Shows for 2018
“Night of the Blood Moon”
The moon is going to turn red in the middle of the night. A total lunar eclipse will occur at the end of January. The full moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow on the evening of the 31st. The Tidewater area will only see part of this eclipse as the total phase will not be viewable from here. Explore why these events take place and how astronomers can predict when the Moon turns red.
“Sky Watchers of Ancient Mexico”
The people of Mesoamerica were avid sky watchers. Their knowledge of the night sky was beyond anyone else on Earth at this time in history. Explore the skies of Central America and learn some of the secrets of the Sky Watchers of Mexico.
View the wonders of the night sky while listening to stereophonic music in the planetarium star theater. Selections of classical and pop music will be played on the planetarium’s powerful sound system while cosmic visuals dance before your eyes. This program allows your imagination to wander among the stars.
There are eighty eight constellations in the night sky but twelve of these often receive more attention and are often referred to differently. These are the zodiac “signs” of the night. View these constellations and Explore what makes these constellations unique from all the other star patterns.
“The Alien Mystery”
One of the greatest mysteries of the Universe is does life exist beyond planet Earth. With billions of galaxies and each galaxy containing billions of stars, the alien mystery may never be solved. We will take an imaginary trip into space and look for aliens. We will explore the possibility and probability of life among the stars.
“The Mystery of Stonehenge”
Almost 4000 years ago a tribe of barbarians built a large stone structure for some unknown reason. The circle of stone may have been a pagan temple, burial site or maybe a stone age computer for predicting astronomical events. The circle of stones, and their purpose, has always been a mystery. We will explore the stone circle and search for alignments of stars and planets.
July and August
The wonders of the summer sky will be this program topic. We will examine the summer constellations and some of the mythology associated with these stars. The program will also examine some of the celestial objects in the summer sky, and demonstrate methods of locating them with a small telescope or binoculars.
*The planetarium will be operating on a summer schedule. Call the reservation number for show dates and times.
Explore the universe at the fastest speed known…the speed of light. Imagine traveling so fast that you could circle the Earth faster that a blink of an eye. Our imaginary trip will create a time shift that will change our home planet when we return. Our voyage will take us from Earth to the farthest region of space and back.
“Meteors and Comets”
The solar system contains more than just the Sun and planets. There are millions of other objects orbiting the Sun and some cosmic visitors often pass through our solar system never to return. Some of these celestial objects were often described as falling stars or shooting stars. Others were labeled demons or omens delivering cosmic news to Earth. Explore meteor showers and comets in your backyard sky.
“The Winter Sky”
The winter sky offers some of the brightest stars visible from Earth. The constellations of winter are easy to identify and the mythology associated with them offers some of the best star stories found among the stars. Explore the crisp clear winter sky this month in the planetarium theater.
“The Christmas Star”
During the month of December the Chesapeake Planetarium sky will be set back more than 2000 years to the date of 8 B.C. Visitors will view the planets and stars as they were long ago. We will search the night sky for the story of a star that marked the coming of the Christmas season. We will also explore some of the astronomical possibilities suggested for the most famous star in history.