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It’s the year of Mars.
With the upcoming Artemis missions, NASA plans to return to the moon – explore more of the lunar surface and establish the first long-term presence on the moon – and make the next big leap into space – by sending astronauts to Mars.
The Treasure Coast Planetarium has even created a new show about the Red Planet and scheduled guided telescopic views of Mars when it appears at its largest and brightest later this year.
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The Hallstrom Planetarium at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce will open its 30th year of shows featuring “Red Planet Rising” to educate visitors about Mars and NASA’s plans to go there. The planet should be visible in the late autumn evening sky.
The planetarium will end in 2022 and begin in 2023 with free telescope tours via the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society. That begins after December 8, when Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth, according to NASA.
During opposition, which occurs roughly every 26 months, Mars and Earth will be about 40 million miles apart as they pass each other.
Starlight series shows
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The Starlight Series shows are directed by Jon Bell, who has been the planetarium’s director since it opened in 1993. Its dome is 40 feet in diameter and has 75 permanent seats.
Tickets are $5 each and shows are at 7pm and 8:30pm on Fridays and at 1pm and 2:30pm on Saturdays unless otherwise noted.
The shows are recommended for children aged 10 and over. Bring a sweater or light jacket as the temperature is kept at 72 degrees.
Purchase tickets online at irsc.edu/community/planetarium, by phone at 800-220-9915, or in person at the McAlpin Fine Arts Center Box Office, 3209 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce, Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m Watch.
“Red Planet Rises”
7th-8th Oct, 21-22; 4th-5th November: Find out all about the red planet Mars and our plans to go there. Mars will be visible in the evening sky in late fall 2022.
“Star of Wonder: 30th Anniversary”
2nd-3rd December 9-10: What was the mysterious star that guided the magicians? Could it have been a comet, a meteor, or a supernova? How could an astronomer explain that? Find out as we take the planetarium back in time over 2,000 years to recreate the sky over Judea.
17 Dec: Enjoy a live concert ‘under the stars’ of songs of the holiday season featuring the electronic music of world-renowned composer and artist Jonn Serrie. Performance times are 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 each.
“Mars Watch: See the Red Planet!”
9, 17 Dec; 13-14 January 28: Members of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society offer guided views of Mars and its features in the planetarium parking lot, weather permitting. These events are free.
“Space Songs, the Musical!”
10th-11th February, 24-25; 10th-11th March: Sing along to space songs with science teachers, students, and the rest of the audience as everyone prepares for their next big science exam. Use music to master the themes.
“Forward to the Moon”
21-22 April; 12-13 May, 26-27 May: Nobody has stepped on the moon since December 1972. Learn about the work NASA and independent contractors are doing to build and take astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis Project.
Open House and “A Year Full of Stars”
1 Oct: Join director Jon Bell for a preview of a new season of planetarium shows and amazing sky events in Florida. Explore the new planetarium’s gift shop at its official opening. The free event is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m
“Astronomy Day and NASA Update”
January 28: Hear Russell Romanella, NASA’s former director of safety and mission assurance at Kennedy Space Center, talk about NASA, the space program and the exploration of the universe. The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will provide exhibits with telescopes, family activities and guided sky views after the presentation, weather permitting. The free event is from 3pm to 9pm
“The Friendly Robot: The Modern Planetarium”
25th March: The projector will be 30 years old in March 2023. See this modern marvel and learn how it works during a talk by director Jon Bell. The free show starts at 6 p.m
“Pythagoras and the Music of the Spheres”
June 10th: IRSC math teacher Michael Reynolds teaches about the connections between math, music and science. The free lecture starts at 6 p.m
8, 22 Oct; 5 Nov; 3, 10 Dec; February 11, 25; March 11; April 22; May 13, 27: For 4-12 years. All adults must be accompanied by at least one child. The free shows start at 11am
Laurie K. Blandford is an entertainment reporter and columnist at TCPalm, dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter @TCPalmLaurie and Facebook @TCPalm Laurie. Email her at [email protected] Sign up for their weekly What To Do in 772 newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletters/manage.