‘Tis the season for Lights and Giving!

The Shiras Planetarium has been busy over the last year and the holidays are in full swing! We have some great shows this month, including three chances to see the holiday lights indoors! Check out Holiday Magic, our family friendly holiday themed laser shows! You can see our full schedule at shirasplanetarium.org!

In the past three years the Shiras Planetarium has done some amazing things! We purchased our own laser system, one of the best in the country for a small planetarium! We have been showing content we purchased from Laser Fantasy out of Seattle and the reviews have been great! We also tried our first LIVE music and laser show in October and it was a huge success! Shiras Planetarium technician and laserist Jacob Phillips rocked his first freelance debut behind the booth! We are looking for bands and musicians who want to collaborate with us! Reach out for more information!

Laser Show at the Shiras Planetarium
Laser Show at the Shiras Planetarium

We have also added Virtual Reality to our planetarium. We are working on ways to tie this to our laser system and will be showcasing that in the coming year! Our students are helping work on some cool integrations of virtual reality into the teaching and learning in our classrooms! The planetarium has become a research facility for that work! We are very excited to continue growing that aspect of our organization.

Our primary focus for December is to try to get some donations rolling so we can reach our goal of ordering a new digital projection system for the Shiras! The Shiras Institute has pledged $100,000 and we have collected about $5000 in other donations for this project. MAPS is committed to spending at least $100,000 on this project. High quality systems start around $250,000 and go up from there. A very high quality system is around $550,000. We have hopes of creating a space that can be utilized for high quality astronomy education but also be utilized for teaching other types of content. We want to help foster young entertainment professionals and film makers. We would love to put that half million dollar system in! But we would need help from donors to make it happen. All levels of donations help! You can learn more about how to make a donations at shirasplanetarium.org/donate.

Inside planetarium showing Minolta MS-8 and Media globe with new ADA accessible doors visible in the back.
This shows inside the Shiras Planetarium in early 2018. The digital projector shown on the left in this picture stopped working in 2015 and has since been removed. The MS-8 star projector which was purchased in 1992 is still being used today.

The future is bright at the Shiras Planetarium! We have many more new things up our sleeves too! With your help we can make this facility the best small planetarium in the country! Thank you so much to all who have supported us thus far! We have been educating and entertaining the Upper Peninsula community since 1965 and we have no plans to stop! We hope you have a happy holiday season! Make plans to visit your local planetarium!

The Box Office is Open!

We reopened to the public on February 7 with the two weeks before that being a “soft” launch and it has been a whirlwind! We have served over 20 different groups! The calendar for March is almost full and April is filling quickly! We are so thankful for the widespread support we have felt from across our community.

One obstacle we have faced has been sold out shows! People have had to line up for a half hour before the door opens and stand in line, waiting for one of the 59 seats inside. And showing up with your kids for a show on time, only to find out you can’t get in is a pain. It is a great problem to have! We are thrilled to see the excitement. And honestly Marquette- you have not seen anything yet! We have so many new and exciting opportunities planned it will blow your mind! We can’t wait to be able to show you!

In an attempt to help ease the stress at the door we have added online ticketing. You can visit shirasplanetarium.org/tickets and pay for your ticket online prior to the show. You will also find the link on our Facebook event posts. Once you’ve purchased your ticket online you can arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the show and take your seat. We will have staff on hand to help guide seating. We will require that you move down and fill in rows to leave room for others arriving after you.

Screenshot of the online ticketing website.

We are hoping this new option will allow more families to plan their busy lives and include the Shiras Planetarium in the mix! You can view our schedule at shirasplanetarium.org/shows.

The Beginning of a New Era for the Shiras Planetarium!

Welcome to the new Shiras Planetarium website! I am Becky Simmons, the new director and I plan to use posts on this page to keep the public updated on what is happening in our space! We have many new and exciting projects planned, such as a “Music Under the Stars” series, yoga under the stars, planetarium shows on all different days of the week at many different times, and so much more! It is exciting to kick off a new era in an establishment that has been a part of the greater Marquette community for over 53 years!

The Shiras Planetarium has a bright future but is faced with many challenges. Our fulldome projection system stopped working in December of 2016 and we have been fundraising for a replacement ever since. Our chairs are original from 1965 and we recently had to remove some recently just to fix others. Our lighting system is aging and has fluctuations and glitches we cannot control. Our Minolta MS-8 star projector was recently maintained and is in good working condition, but is 26 years old and has a projected lifespan of 30 years. A new full dome projection system is between $350,000 and $500,000 for a high quality cove mounted system. New lighting and chairs will cost all of $50,000. And looking forward, we will need over $400,000 in the next five years to replace our star projector if and when it fails. The financial obstacles are huge for a planetarium in a public school. We need strong community partners to keep this gem in the community and thriving for years to come.

 

Shiras Planetarium new entry doors

Phase one of our plan was the addition of an ADA accessible entrance to the planetarium which was completed in December 2017. This makes it so much easier for all people to visit our space. We also gained a beautiful new neighbor, the MSHS Auxiliary gym. The last group of kindergarteners in the planetarium ended their visit with a quick game of chase the director around the gym before getting back on their bus! Having this space next to the planetarium and easy to get to opens the doors to many new types of activities the Shiras Planetarium and Marquette Senior High School can offer the community.

 

Phase two of our upgrades includes new seating, a full dome projection system, and new LED RGBW lighting. We will also install new carpet, fresh paint, and a few minor remodeling touches. MAPS is committed to partially funding the project. But our financial needs are over $500,000. That is out of the budget. We will need financial partners and donors to pull it off. In upcoming posts I will talk about all the new events we will be able to do with this new technology and furniture and how we plan to increase our offerings to the public!

Hope to see you under the stars soon! Check out our schedule for show details!