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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Mars: Learn about the red planet, the moon and NASA Artemis missions at IRSC planetarium

EntertainmentMars: Learn about the red planet, the moon and NASA Artemis missions at IRSC planetarium

It’s the year of Mars.

With the upcoming Artemis missions, NASA plans to return to the moon — exploring more of the lunar surface and establishing the first long-term presence on the moon — and take the next giant leap into outer space — sending astronauts to Mars.

The Treasure Coast planetarium has even created a new show about the red planet and planned guided telescope viewings of Mars when it appears at its biggest and brightest, starting at the end of the year.

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Jon Bell, the director of IRSC's Hallstrom Planetarium in Fort Pierce since it opened in 1993, stands in front of the 360-degree immersive digital OmniStar projection system and the state-of-the-art Spitz automated planetarium projector used to recreate the sky, sun, moon and planets among the stars on the 40-foot, domed ceiling during planetarium shows.

The Hspanllstrom Plspannetspanrium at Indispann River Stspante College in Fort Pierce will kick off its 30th year of shows with “Red Planet Rising” to teach 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 2022 and start 2023 with free telescope viewings via the Trespansure Cospanst Astronomicspanl Society. That starts after Dec. 8, when Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth, spanccording to NASA.

During opposition, which happens about every 26 months, Mars and Earth will be about 40 million miles apart when they pass each other. 

Starlight Series shows

The “Starlight Series” shows are led by Jon Bell, the planetarium’s director since it opened in 1993. Its dome is 40 feet in diameter and has 75 fixed seats.

Tickets are $5 each and shows are at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Fridays and 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays, unless otherwise noted. 

Shows are recommended for children ages 10 and older. Bring a sweater or light jacket because the temperature is maintained at 72 degrees.

Buy tickets online at irsc.edu/community/plspannetspanrium, by phone at 800-220-9915 or in person at the McAlpin Fine Arts Center Box Office, 3209 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Red Planet Rising”

Oct. 7-8, 21-22; Nov. 4-5: Find out all about Mars, the red planet, and our plans to go there. Mars is visible in the late autumn 2022 evening skies.

“Star of Wonder: 30th Anniversary”

Dec. 2-3, 9-10: What was the mysterious star that guided the Magi? Could it have been a comet, a meteor or a supernova? How might an astronomer explain it? Find out as we take the planetarium back in time over 2,000 years to recreate the skies over Judea.


Dec. 17: Enjoy a live concert “under the stars” featuring songs of the holiday season with the electronic music of world-renowned composer and artist Jonn Serrie. Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 each.

“Mars Watch: See the Red Planet!”

Dec. 9, 17; Jan. 13-14, 28: Members of the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will host guided views of Mars and its features in the planetarium’s parking lot, weather permitting. These events are free.

“Space Songs, The Musical!”

Feb. 10-11, 24-25; March 10-11: Join science teachers, students and the rest of the audience in singing outer space songs as everyone prepares for the next big science exam. Use music to master the subjects.

“Forward to the Moon”

April 21-22; May 12-13, 26-27: No one has walked on the moon since December 1972. Learn about the work being done by NASA and independent contractors to build and launch astronauts to the moon through the Artemis project.

Open House and “A Year Full of Stars”

Oct. 1: Join Director Jon Bell for a preview of a new season of planetarium shows and awesome Florida sky events. Explore the new planetarium gift shop at its official opening. The free event is 6-9 p.m.

“Astronomy Day and NASA Update”

Jan. 28: Hear Russell Romanella, former director of Safety and Mission Assurance for NASA at Kennedy Space Center, discuss NASA, the space program and the exploration of the universe. The Treasure Coast Astronomical Society will provide exhibits with telescopes, family activities and guided views of the sky after the presentation, weather permitting. The free event is 3-9 p.m.

“The Friendly Robot: The Modern Planetarium”

March 25: The projector turns 30 years old in March 2023. See this modern marvel and learn how it works during a lecture by Director Jon Bell. The free show starts at 6 p.m.

“Pythagoras and the Music of the Spheres”

June 10: IRSC math instructor Michael Reynolds teaches about the interconnections between math, music and science. The free lecture starts at 6 p.m.

“Kid Space”

Oct. 8, 22; Nov. 5; Dec. 3, 10; Feb. 11, 25; March 11; April 22; May 13, 27: For ages 4-12. All adults must be accompanied by at least one child. The free shows start at 11 a.m.

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