Exploring Kalamazoo Valley Museum's Planetarium

Jonnie Palone

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Chairs at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Planetarium line up row by row facing toward the dome of the planetarium. They lean back as the viewer watches for a 360 degree view of the program. Photo Credit / Jonnie Palone

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum has a lot to offer the public including historical exhibits, interactive displays and planetarium shows. A planetarium is a dome shaped viewing room that projects a video onto the walls and ceiling through LED lights, giving the viewer the opportunity to watch films entirely surrounded by sound and picture. The shows and projects of the planetarium have been sharing the wonders of the universe since 1959 using technology such as slide projectors and digital projection systems.
The planetarium in downtown Kalamazoo’s museum offers many exciting shows that take the viewer into different worlds for only 3 dollars a visit. The planetarium has a schedule of shows that change throughout the seasons. They offer a variety of shows, some are educational while others are just for entertainment.
Recently, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum has upgraded the planetarium for better viewing quality in the spirit of providing high quality shows to the public. The planetarium has replaced its sound system, added new LED lights and upgraded the “star-projection” system to the latest version of Digistar, a trademarked program planetariums run on. With this in mind, right now is a very good time to catch one of the planetarium shows at the museum.
“The planetarium is a unique experience because it allows visitors to get an amazing look into the intriguing secrets that space has to offer that visitors may otherwise not notice from the naked eye. The planetarium really shows me how pure space is and gives me a much larger picture of what’s really out there,” said senior Noah Machin.
There are a few shows that the Kalamazoo Valley Museum is offering to the public right now, all of which the planetarium takes to the next level. The planetarium lets the viewer experience shows in a different  way than they’re used too.
A family program, “The Little Star That Could,” has viewings on Monday through Friday at 11 a.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. This program explores the changes of the seasons, the concepts of day and night, our Earth, its Moon, neighboring planets and familiar constellations such as the Big Dipper. This program started on March 18th and runs until June 16th.
Another show at the planetarium right now is “MI Spring Skies.” This stargazing program is shown on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. This program is a simulation of the Michigan sky. This show will help locate constellations around Michigan skies. This show is available to the public on March 18th until June 16th.
The featured program at the planetarium is called “Ice Worlds.” “Ice Worlds” explores the role of ice in the universe. This program ran Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3 p.m. “Ice Worlds” ran until March 17th.
The last programs running at the planetarium are the music light show programs. Right now the Kalamazoo Valley Museum has two light shows from the band Pink Floyd. This program displays Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” like never before. The planetarium runs through the entire album with exciting visual representations of the music. This show is only on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and runs until June 11th.
“The planetarium is awesome because they play Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin songs while showing a light show. It’s a great experience to take in and visualize such iconic songs. If you haven’t gone, you need to make it a top priority to go, especially if you enjoy classic rock,” said senior Vaughn Taylor.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum Planetarium takes stargazing, music light shows and overall digital viewing to the next level. The planetarium is definitely something to experience if you’ve never been. There’s always a program for everyone. The planetarium has shows for kids of all ages and is fun for the whole family.
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This computer sits backstage at the planetarium. The screen features all the programs that the planetarium can play at anytime. Photo Credit / Jonnie Palone

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Customers pile in front of these doors waiting for the showtime to begin. Behind those double doors is the purposely sealed dark planetarium. Photo Credit / Jonnie Palone

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The seats in the planetarium line up row by row facing the notorious domed ceiling. Each chair equipped with audience intractable remotes, so the audience can interact with certain shows. Photo Credit / Jonnie Palone