Barlow Planetarium brightens community interest in astronomy

UW-Fox Valley’s Barlow Planetarium is the largest in the UW System. • UW-Fox Valley file photo

Each year, over 25,000 students from multiple schools and 10,000 community members come to the most visited planetarium in the UW System, the Barlow Planetarium at UW-Fox Valley, to see the stars and constellations.

Schools like Ripon, Tigerton and even Sheboygan travel to visit the Barlow planetarium regularly.

“Although the planetarium has 98 seats available, on average for schools there are typically 50 guests. While on weekend shows for the public, there will usually be around 30 guests,” Alan Peche, planetarium director, said.

Peche explained that, often times, a child’s first level of interest in science comes from astronomy since kids are curious.

“If we do a good job with young kids now, we will have their interest for life,” Peche said.

The planetarium show “Bear Tales and Other Grizzly Stories” was a fun, educational experience for kids.

Stories of constellations and their backgrounds were provided in the show, such as that 1,000 Earths could fit inside Jupiter.

“The show was great and fun. I want to come back and see another show soon,” 8-year-old Anna D. of Menasha said.

“At the end of the show, I felt like I was on a roller coaster in space. It was the coolest feeling of my life,” 7-year-old Ben T. of Kimberly said.

When students visit the planetarium, they are sent home with a free guest pass for a parent, so they can visit again.

UW-Fox valley also offers a summer astronomy camp for second through eighth grades. There are, on average, 100 kids who attend the summer camp per year, and a lot of the kids come back year after year. It is a four-day camp where kids learn how to build personalized rockets and how to safely launch them off launch pads. Kids then get to take home the launch pad after they learn all of the safety precautions.

To learn more about outer space and the stars, a schedule is provided online on the UW-Fox Valley website.