Public Shows

February 4, 11, 18, 25

7 PM Follow the Drinking Gourd

8 PM Explorers of Mauna Kea

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Learn how slaves used astronomy and song to escape the bondage of slavery and travel along the Underground Railroad to Canada. Slaves would develop songs that contained a secret code to help them travel to freedom in the north. Hear how the words of the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd" provided clues to help the slaves. Then, follow one family on its treacherous journey to Canada. Planetarium patrons will have an opportunity to sing along with the song and learn that the Drinking Gourd is another name for the Big Dipper. Other common constellations will also be discussed.

Appropriate for all ages: some content might make young children uneasy

Explorers of Mauna Kea

Join the "explorers" who work in the world-class observatories on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on Hawaii. Learn about volcanoes and the unique conditions that make Mauna Kea one of the best observing sites on Earth. You'll be "transported" to different latitudes on Earth to view the night sky and use small mirrors to make a model of a reflecting telescope.

Target audience: Ages 8 and up


NOTE: Observatory Open After Public Shows.

Weather permitting, the RPSEC Observatory housing the Bechtel Telescope will be open for 30 minutes after public shows. There is no cost for these public observatory sessions.


March 4, 11, 18, 25

7 PM Mission to Mars

8 PM Blown Away: Wild World of Weather

Mission to Mars

Join us on a Mission to Mars in the comfort of our planetarium! Launch videos will propel us from Earth; then we'll zoom through space to Mars using NASA images and our Digistar projector. Learn about space travel; compare the surface features and rock types on Mars with Earth's geology; and view the Martian night sky!

Appropriate for all ages

Blown Away: Wild World of Weather

Viewers will be blown away as they experience the fascinating world of weather in this planetarium show. Along with spectacular weather images, this program features a journey into space to explore the Sun's effect on weather. You will also travel through the water cycle with Drippy, the water drop, and meet news meteorologists who explain what causes weather. You'll learn about storm prediction and safety as you are swept into a thunderstorm, immersed in a hurricane, and caught up in a tornado!

Target audience: Ages 8 and up


Welcome to the DuPont Planetarium

The DuPont Planetarium exists to inspire others to explore the majesty of the heavens. Visitors age 4 and up attend public shows presented every Saturday. We encourage our visitors to reserve seats in advance. If you make a reservation, please arrive no later than 20 minutes before the show starts. All unclaimed reservations will be released 10 minutes prior to the show.

Astronomy and More

While most DuPont Planetarium programs focus on astronomy and encourage exploration of the night sky, one show takes visitors inside the living cell, and another blows them away into the wild world of weather. Most shows take advantage of the automation system in the planetarium, and all involve an enthusiastic presenter who is eager to share the majesty of the heavens with visitors. Digistar shows, such as Virtual Journey, entertain by using the power of the digital star projector to create shapes that dance across the dome to lively music.

Student Programs

Each year, thousands of K-12 school children visit the planetarium during the school day for exciting programs that meet science standards. These programs are reserved and scheduled like other student programs at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. We also conduct specialized programs for university classes.

RPSEC Observatory

The RPSEC Observatory (on the roof of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center) is open after public shows on Saturday evenings, weather permitting. The Bechtel Telescope housed in the RPSEC Observatory provides views of planets, nebulae and other celestial objects.

Private Programs

Private shows are arranged for educational groups such as scouts, preschools and colleges and for fun events such as birthday parties and company celebrations. To schedule a private showing for your group, see the Plan Your Visit section.