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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Planetarium?

A planetarium is a theatre of the Universe. It can surround you with an accurate image of the sparkling night sky. It can show all the motions and cycles of the sky. It can create a multi-media experience with video, visual effects, computer animations, narration, and music that reveal the wonders of the cosmos to you, your class or group. It can interpret the Universe in a way that appeals to both the mind and eye. The Planetarium will introduce you to a life-long acquaintance with the sky and the Universe. 

What is unique about the Planetarium at TAMIU?

Imagine a planetarium theater where all the sights and sounds are created digitally...A theater where the dome is covered with breathtaking images and where the audience is immersed in surround sound.  This is Digital Theater and you don't have to imagine it anymore.  As one of the first of its kind the Digistar 3 system at the TAMIU Planetarium can take audiences on a fantastic voyage through the cosmos.

What technology does the Planetarium Digistar 3 system have?

The Digistar 3 uses powerful graphics hardware and software to generate immersive full-dome images on the interior surface of a dome, integrating all-dome video, real time 3D computer graphics, and a complete digital astronomy package.

Designed as a state-of-the-art 21st Century digital planetarium instrument, Digistar 3 is a fully integrated system that replaces the need for traditional planetarium equipment such as slide projectors, special effects projectors, slewable video projectors, etc.

Who should use the Planetarium?

Classes studying astronomy should visit the Planetarium. Ideally, students should make several visits over the years to experience a broad range of programs. We also encourage all students, teachers and parents to attend, we have a wide variety of shows on different subjects to encourage student learning.  Community groups are also welcome to make a reservation you can call 956-326-2463.  Every Friday and Saturday night throughout the year there will be planetarium shows open to the general  public on a variety of topics.  One of the most popular times of the year to visit the planetarium is during the Christmas Season.  Leading up to Christmas there are several public showings of Tis The Season.  Stay tuned to this website for details on public shows and visit the show schedule link on our website for planetarium show schedule.

Do You Have Any Shows That Are Not Educational

The main mission of the TAMIU Planetarium is education, however we do have pure entertainment shows like enTRANCED.  enTRANCED blends techno music, mind-bending immersive animations, and state-of-the-art technology into a theatrical and musical presentation unlike anything else before.  enTRANCED brings the laser light shows of the 70s and '80s into the 21st century.  Check out enTRANCED every Saturday night at the TAMIU Planetarium

Where are the plants? (no kidding!)

Planetaria are often confused with other facilities. Although the word sounds similar, there are no plants, fish or birds -- just planets -- in the realm of the planetarium.

Why is there no late entry allowed to the planetarium?

The planetarium is not a movie theather, once the doors are shut the environment in the planetarium is extremely dark.  Due to this extreme darkness and in order to prevent accidents late entry is not allowed.  Also our shows are only about 30 minutes long and you would not get to appreciate the content of the material shown.  As a general rule try to arrive 15-20 minutes early, your eyes also need to get adjusted to the dark environment.

Why is there no reentry allowed to the planetarium?

As we explained in the previous question, once  the show starts the planetarium is under extreme darkness.  If you leave in the middle of the show your eyes will get readjusted to the light, coming back in will be very difficult due to the fact that you would not be able to see anything for a while.  In order to prevent accidents and as a common courtesy to other customers reentry is not allowed.

How do you open the dome?

Because both have domes and deal with astronomy, a planetarium is sometimes confused with an observatory. Planetaria are theaters which simulate the night sky (and even daytime skies depending on their projection capabilities). The dome doesn't open; it's just a projection screen which the planetarium uses to project the star images on the dome.