Friday, March 29, 2019

Spring into Space at the RVCC Planetarium!

The planetarium is fun and educational for visitors of all ages. Kids, parents, grandparents, teens, and adults—they all can find magic in the night sky.  And the best place to begin that discovery is at the RVCC Planetarium.
  • Children's Shows (some for visitors as young as 3 years old!)
  • General Audience Astronomy Shows
  • Laser Concerts
  • 3M Observatory
  • Sensory-Friendly Shows
  • Monthly Sky Highlights

WHERE: RVCC Planetarium, 118 Lamington Rd., Branchburg

Children’s Shows

Rockin' Rocket Ride
WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 3:00 pm

Put on your space suit and blast off into outer space to visit the Moon, Sun, and planets.  A lively experience for young people with songs from the CD "Journey into Space" by Jane Murphy.  (Recommended for ages 3-8)

WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 4:00 pm

Our youngest audience members can sing along with songs by mr. RAY (Family Ride, Kalien the Alien) and Jane Murphy (Moon Rock Rock, The Planet Song). Some songs are illustrated with lasers and other songs feature video images. (Recommended for ages 3-8)

Magic Tree House: Space Mission
WHEN: Saturdays, April 6 and 13, 3:00 pm

Join Jack and Annie as they discover the secrets of the Sun, Moon, planets, space travel and more. Who can help them answer the questions left for them by the mysterious "M"?  Based on the same-titled, best-selling series of novels. (Recommended for ages 5-12)

Laser Light Waves
WHEN: Saturdays, April 6 and 13, 4:00 pm

Lasers dance on the dome while we listen to songs including "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles, "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae, "Counting Stars" by One Republic, and "Glad You Came" by The Wanted. (Recommended for ages 6 and older)

Check our website for the public show schedule for now through May 2019, and show descriptions.

ADMISSION: $10 per person for one show; $16 per person for two shows on the same day. Use code STAR1 when you purchase your ticket for a $2 per person discount.

Reservations are recommended. Call to make reservations: 908-231-8805

General Audience Shows

The Planetarium will be closed Saturday, April 20.

From Earth to the Universe
WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 7:00 pm

The sky is a place of wonder. Philosophers and scientists, from the Greeks to Galileo, began to unravel some of its mysteries. The invention of the telescope allowed for still more discoveries. Fly by all the planets in our solar system,then travel beyond to view the birthplace and death of stars, and still farther to the myriad galaxies in our Universe. This program includes a brief tour of the current night sky. (Recommended for ages 10-adult)

Astronomy Tonight
WHEN: Saturday, April 6, 7:00 pm

Using the Planetarium's DigitalSky digital theater, experience a guided tour of the night sky.  Learn about some of the popular constellations visible tonight. (recommended for ages 8-adult)

Exploding Universe
WHEN: Saturdays, April 13 and 27, 7:00 pm

The universe we see today is the product of explosive events. As the universe has transformed into its current state, event the most elementary particles have endured. The show follows the path of one of these particles, a proton, as it participates in nature's astounding events of rebirth and renewal. This program includes a brief tour of the current night sky. (Recommended for ages 10-adult)

Laser Concerts

Laser Ladies
WHEN: Saturday, March 30, 8:00 pm

Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Beyonce, and Shakira are just a few of the ladies highlighted in this new laser concert.

Laser Beatles
WHEN: Saturdays, April 6, 13, and 27, 8:00 pm

Listen to hits from The Fab Four's long career, like "Twist and Shout," "Revolution," and "Get Back" while lasers animate the songs on the dome overhead.

ADMISSION: $10 per person for one show; $16 per person for two shows on the same day. Use code STAR1 when you purchase your ticket for a $2 per person discount.

Reservations are recommended. Call to make reservations: 908-231-8805

Sensory-Friendly programs

The Sky Above 
WHEN: Saturday, April 6, 5 pm

Enjoy music, laser lights, stories, and information about the planets, Moon, and constellations.  Content is presented on a kindergarten level.

RVCC Planetarium offers special astronomy and music shows designed for families with children on the Autism spectrum or those with developmental disabilities. These sensory-friendly shows, which are appropriate for audiences of all ages, will provide a comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. During the show, the doors will remain open so children may freely leave and return if they choose. Lights will be left dim (instead of dark) and the audio will be lowered and kept at a consistent level.

Call to make a reservation: 908-231-8805.
Visit our website

A "handy" guide to measuring the sky.  Fully extend your arm and then start making measurements

Evening Planets

   Follow the motion of Mars against the background stars.  At the start of April. look for Mars next to the Pleiades star cluster. By April 14, Mars is 6.5 degrees north of the star Aldebaran, marking the eye of Taurus the Bull.  By month's end, Mars is nearing the tips of the horns of Taurus the Bull. Mars sets around four hours after sunset near the beginning of April and about three hours after sunset by the end of April. Earth and Mars move farther from each other this month by 20 million miles.

Morning Planets

Venus and Mercury can be spotted low in the east. Mercury is to the lower left of much brighter Venus. Mercury is at its greatest elongation from the Sun on April 11. Notice the difference in this elongation compared to the elongation in February 2019. This month, Mercury is 28 degrees from the Sun. In February it was just 18 degrees from the Sun. Due to the lower angle of the ecliptic, this apparition of Mercury keeps it closer to the horizon, but with bright Venus as a guide it should be easy to find. Venus and Mercury have a quasi-conjunction on April 16 at just 4.3 degrees apart.

Saturn and Jupiter can easily be spotted towards the south at dawn. The Moon is near Jupiter on April 23 and near Saturn on April 25.

Moon Phases

New Moon April 5

First Quarter Moon  April 12

Full Moon  April 19

Last Quarter Moon   April 26

The Sun has been a mostly blank disk for months, but we were lucky enough to catch an Earth-sized sunspot before it rotated out of view last Saturday.  Photo credit: Amie Gallagher, RVCC Planetarium Director