Facebook Pixel WKU Hardin Planetarium | School Programs | Western Kentucky University


Educators, the below will help you plan.

University class events should instead use: » University Booking Form


icon representing a handTeachers of all grades may bring students to the Planetarium for a presentation of their choice, and this is almost always free.  Our full dome introduces students of all ages to astronomy and space science, with several shows from which to choose.

Field trips are usually scheduled weekdays during school hours.  Performance times outside regular hours are available upon request for a nominal charge. You will request your trip via the online form link found near both the top and the bottom of this page.

Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.


 » Online Request Form


How to Book a Field Trip

To create a trip to the Planetarium you will need to make some decisions, and then fill out the online form. For now, let’s plan.


1. Gather Chaperones

Our staff is too few to manage groups of students, so you will need to bring chaperones. You and the chaperones will also handle any student behavior concerns. Note that food and drink are not allowed in the Star Chamber.


2. Divide Large Groups into Sub-groups

We limit the size of student audiences to a maximum of 40, to ensure good order. To bring more than 40 guests, split your group into sub-groups of 40 with one sub-group in the Planetarium while other sub-groups are busy at an alternate campus venue (a list of recommendations is below). Then, after the initial 45 minutes or so, all groups can rotate to the next activity.


3. Other Things to do at WKU

Whether you want to do more at WKU than just the Planetarium, or if you need one sub-group in the Planetarium while the rest are elsewhere, consider the below options. We cannot guarantee these departments will be able to provide these services when you need, and you will need to contact these departments yourself. Each will communicate with you on their own, and will manage their portion of your trip on their own.


WKU Admissions provides campus tours for students of all ages.

The Kentucky Museum (10-12 minute walk away; no charge):
+ art programs for students and a chance to tour the KY Museum

Engineering and Applies Sciences (2-minute walk away)
+ tours of the robotics lab to small groups (good for 4th grades and above)

The Department of Theatre and Dance
+ childrens' performances and activities certain times of the year, sometimes for a fee.



4. Look Through the Shows on Offer

Below is a scrollable list of shows with descriptions, sorted by grade range. All shows are suitable for multiple grades. You will also find a list of subjects covered by each show.


[PreK-2] Daily Motions
Subjects: Earth's rotation; measuring time passage
Run time: 45 minutes
Why does the Sun rise and set? How does the Moon move through the sky? Where are the other planets in the sky? Before watching this, students will first be instructed by our staff to prepare them, and they will earn an HP Ticket to turn in to watch the show.

NGSS standards: 1-ESS1-1


[3-8] Motions in the Sky
Subjects differ by grades: elementary - noon Meridian (AM/PM); Movement of Sun, moon and planets; time zones | high school - Retrograde motion; time zones; Daylight Savings Time; celestial clock
Run time: 45 minutes
Why does the Sun rise and set? How does the Moon move through the sky? Where are the other planets in the sky?

NGSS standards: 1-ESS1-1, 1-ESS1-2, 5-ESS1-2, 6-ESS1-1


[3-12] Two Small Pieces of Glass
Subjects: Galileo, Huygens, Newton, Hubble; physics of light and planets; reflection & refraction; telescopes
Run time: 45 minutes
A full-done movie which explores telescopes, and their history. While looking through the astronomer's telescope we explore the Galilean Moons, Saturn's rings, and spiral structure of galaxies.

NGSS standards: 5-ESS1-1


[6-12] Ancient Earth
Subjects: geology; geologic time scales; plate tectonics; fossils; atomic structure; radioactive decay
Run time: 45 minutes
So how old is the Earth, and how have we determined that? This fulfills several NGSS standards: MS-ESS1-4, HS-ESS1-6, HS-ESS1-5, HS-ESS2-1, MS-ESS2-3, HS-PS1-8, MS-PS1-1, 5-PS1-1, 4-ESS1-1, 3-LS4-1, MS-ESS1-2


[6-12] Spaceship Earth
Subjects: planetary, solar, and galactic astrophysics
Run time: 45 minutes
We use a funny song to explore the size of the Earth, its motion around the Sun, and the speed with which we move through space.

NGSS standards: 6-ESS1-2, HS-ESS1-4


[6-12] Invisible Universe
Subjects: electromagnetic spectrum; astronomical discoveries
Run time: 60 minutes
We learn about the cosmos only by analyzing the light that shines across space. But visible light is only a tiny portion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and humans can't see infrared, radio, ultraviolet, x-rays or gamma-rays. Only recently have we invented the kinds of telescopes needed to see the rest of the universe.

NGSS standards: 7-PS2-5, 7-PS4-1, 7-PS4-2, HS-PS4-1, HS-PS4,4, HS-PS4-5, HS-ESS1-2


[6-12] When the Universe was Young
Subjects: early universe; look-back time; spatial dimensions; electromagnetic spectrum; redshift
Run time: 45 minutes
We are the first generation to learn what our universe was like at the beginning. A century ago we believed the universe eternal and unchanging, but since then we have learned about galaxies and the 14 billion years of the universe's life.

NGSS standards: 7-PS4-1, HS-ESS1-2


[5-12] Moonbeings?
Subjects: extraterrestrial life; requirements for life; structure of the Solar System; moons; radiation shielding
Run time: 45 minutes
Learn why we search for life beyond Earth in the diverse array of moons in our solar system. What places in a solar system are likely locations for life as we understand it?

NGSS standards: 6-ESS1-3, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS2-4


[6-12] Saturn's Young Rings
Subjects: geologic time line; age of the Earth and the Universe; age of Saturn's rings; structure of the rings and how they were formed
Run time: 45 minutes
Recent analysis of data from the Cassini probe indicate that Saturn’s rings are comparatively “young.” But what does that mean? We take a look at what the rings are and how rings are made, and also the formation of our Solar System and the birth of our Universe.



5. Other Details to Consider

Inside the Planetarium but outside the Star Chamber is the Ring Hall, full of astronomical exhibits. You may need to build time for this before or after each group sees a Star Chamber show, assuming you want to make use of exhibits. Also, groups often stay for a question period at the end of a show, so this will expand your trip time.



Fill Out the School Program Request Form

Having planned for your trip, click the link below for the online form and submit it. We will email you a reply with either a direct confirmation or a negotation on your planned date/time or perhaps the fee (should one apply).


 » Online Request Form




Icon representing handicapped ParkingWheelchair Accessibility: A ramp from State St. provides access to the building's main floor. The below lots are only available on weekends or after 4:30 PM.

1) Two spots in a tiny lot behind the building, at the end of a driveway from State St. That lot is lower than the building, so it is an uphill climb.

2) Three spots in the lot between Ogden College Hall and Kelly Thompson Hall.

3) The large parking lots on top of College Heights Blvd. The path from there is down hill.



Bus Unloading:

» Download the bus unloading map (PDF)

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 7/7/23