Yesterday we visited the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder on the CU Campus. Last year we had went to the Denver Museum of Natural History and were sorely disappointed with the Gates Planetarium, in 2001 it was rebuilt and is no longer a theater in the round. It didn’t feel like a planetarium at all and was more of an expensive IMAX type experience. Fiske Planetarium is still an old style planetarium even with a vintage 1973 star projector named Fritz, although they did mention they will be upgrading in the
next year or so to a digital system.
Fiske Planetarium was also inexpensive. We had a groupon that gave us half price, but full price for adults is $7. Compared to the $16 for the Gates Planetarium that’s a great deal. We arrived early since we were driving up from Greeley. Fiske has a few very interesting exhibits and fun things to do while you are waiting for the show. Our 4 year old and 8 year old were fascinated with the different displays and there was staff available to explain some of what we were seeing.
The show we saw was Colorado Skies: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. It started off with a view of the Colorado night sky where the presenter, a young man named Robin, pointed out several of the common
constellations and showed us where they would appear. After the star show Robin gave a talk reviewing the history of astronomy and the astronomers that have made significant contributions to the field. This talk was accompanied by slides projected on the Planetarium screen/ceiling.
Seeing the night skies and constellations was great. The lecture was OK. The presenter did a very nice job, he was young, perhaps a student, but the talk was interesting and he seemed knowledgeable about most things. There were a few stumbles, but nothing major.
I did have a couple criticisms with the whole experience. First off was the time. The Fiske website specifically said the presentation would be from 8-9, but it actually went from 8-9:30. This extra 1/2 hour made for a challenge with our childcare situation. Second was the slideshow/lecture portion of the show. It was fine, but it was a little dry. I’m not sure if all their presentations are
lectures like this, but I intend to go again and find out. I do wish their website was a little easier to use and went into more detail on what to expect in a planetarium show.
Overall, it was a great experience. I would highly recommend visiting the Fiske Planetarium and looking at the stars.