Description and review of the Sacramento State Planetarium. The Planetarium is housed in a 40-foot diameter dome that is incorporated into the Tschannen Science Complex.
About the Sacramento State Planetarium
The Sacramento State Planetarium is a 40-foot diameter dome providing a 360- degree viewing experience. The 120-seat state-of-the-art facility features two ultra-high- definition projectors. The projectors are coordinated by five high-end computers to create the perfect images projected.
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Construction on the Planetarium and Science Complex was completed in 2019. Unfortunately, a few months after opening the Planetarium was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has now reopened.
The Planetarium is open to the public at least one weekend a month. Tickets are sold on-line, and they sell out quickly.
The Planetarium is located on the east side of the Sacramento State campus, to the north of Parking Structure II and the Hornet Bookstore.
Sacramento State Planetarium Tour
While COVID is still with us, life is becoming somewhat more “normal” and students have returned to the Sacramento State campus. The Renaissance Society, which had embraced online learning during the worst of the pandemic, is slowly adding more in-person classes and events.
See related blog post: Sacramento Renaissance Society
Renaissance Society members recently had the opportunity to tour the Sacramento State Planetarium and the Science Complex as part of the Renaissance Society on-campus Summer Program. I signed up for one such tour on a recent weekday.
We met in front of the nearby Hornet Bookstore and then as a group made our way to the Planetarium. We paused in the lobby to learn a bit about the Planetarium from a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty who was our host for the introductory demonstration.
The Planetarium also serves as a classroom, and we were cautioned to be careful as we entered as the fold-away desk tops protrude a bit into the aisle. We were also advised that the best seats in the house are towards the back and in the center.
Sacramento State Planetarium Demonstration
Our host demonstrated the capabilities of the combined projectors and screen, explaining what we were seeing as the universe and its components (stars, planets, etc.) were seen from a distance and then close up as we traveled through space.
Closer to home, we both viewed planet Earth from a distance and up close as we, for example, made our way through the Grand Canyon.
After the demonstration, we filed out into the lobby where we split into two groups for a tour of the Tschannen Science Complex.
Tschannen Science Complex
Lisa, the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, was the tour guide for my group. The 5-story, $91.5 million Science Complex building is LEED Gold certified. The Science Complex serves as home to both teaching and research laboratories, among other functions. The building is filled with natural light, and glass walls add to the feel of openness.
As classes were not in session, we had the opportunity to enter one of the state-of-the-are labs where classes are held. The labs/classrooms were designed with input from the faculty so they meet the needs of both students and instructors.
Among other things, Lisa explained that the increased number of labs makes it easier for students to complete their educations on time.
We also visited the roof-top observatory which is fitted with two large telescopes and a retractable roof. Outside the observatory is a patio area where students can utilize smaller telescopes to study the skies. We went outside to take in the view of the American River.
One of the many interesting tidbits Lisa shared was that the decorative milled wood found throughout the building was sourced from trees that had to be removed during the construction of the building.
To Sum Up
To sum up, I was really appreciative of the opportunity to tour the Planetarium and the Science Complex building. Both are a welcome addition to the Sac State campus.
Comments on the Sacramento State Planetarium?
Have you attended a show at the Sacramento State Planetarium? What was your experience?
Sacramento State Planetarium Snapshot:
- 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819
- (916) 278-4323
- Admission: General Admission: $5; Sac State Students and Children under 12: Free (Note: admission ticket required for both paid and free admissions)
- Shows: Approximately 60 minutes
- Parking: Free parking with paid admission on top (only) floor of Parking Structure II (one hour prior to show).
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