Ingram Planetarium Offers Diverse Programs & a New Vision of the Skies
The music crescendos as the boat sails across the crystal blue water and meets the bluest of skies. The viewer becomes part of the journey and anticipates the next scene. Such is the opening to Earth, Moon & Sun, one of the sky shows in the 85-seat domed theater at Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach.
Will Snyder took charge as manager of the planetarium in December 2015 and has revamped the programs and updated the equipment. “This adds a whole new layer of excitement for the laser and music shows,” he says. “It is an immersive experience.”
The array of programs and exhibits will intrigue all ages from preschoolers to senior citizens, and Snyder invites school groups, social groups, families and individuals to visit the planetarium and learn more about our solar system and its dimensions. “You can spend your whole life learning about space,” Snyder says. He recommends people download apps to increase their knowledge. “There are many free ones,” he says.
About 100 first graders from Town Creek Elementary School saw Earth, Moon & Sun recently and participated in activities along with Katherine Hunt, education outreach coordinator/presenter. She demonstrated the properties of gravity, air pressure, vacuum and aerodynamics by using simple items such as a belt, a balloon, plastic bags and a hair dryer to show how science works.
The children examined the dozens of interactive exhibits in Paul Dennis Science Hall, including Nano Technology, Star Locator and the Hurricane Simulator. Robin Wilson, a volunteer at the planetarium, assisted the students at the harmonograph, a device that uses pendulums to make geometric images. “It’s fun [being a volunteer],” Wilson says. “You get to work with the kids.”
“Our [museum/planetarium] membership has more than paid for itself,” said Barretta Smith of Leland, who accompanied her son, Jerod, 7, on the Town Creek field trip. She explained that the programs at both the planetarium and its sister facility, Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach, offer intriguing programs.
Town Creek first grade teacher Ashley Diehl said the planetarium visit is pertinent to the school curriculum, which includes the study of day, night, phases of the moon and other earth science lessons.
“[The planetarium] isn’t just for kids,” Snyder says. “We do things for adults, too.”
He conducts the Stars at Sunset program at 7 p.m. the 1st Friday of the month through May. This presentation highlights what is visible in the nighttime sky over the Carolinas.
Another attraction is StarWatch, which takes place April 7 and 22 and May 5 and 20 at 8 p.m. In this activity, people bring a telescope or use those at the planetarium to look at the nighttime sky. The program continues from Memorial Day to Labor Day on Wednesdays around 9 p.m. “You can see rings of Saturn from the planetarium parking lot,” Snyder says. “We encourage people to learn what goes on in the sky.”
The laser music shows combine laser artwork, 3D atmospheric effects, and 360-degree lighting to provide a sensory experience unlike any other, Snyder says. “The light seems to dance around you,” he adds.
These presentations pair songs with formations in the sky and bring a new dimension to appreciating classic hits by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Michael Jackson. Laser Country, 80s Night and Classic Rock Night encompass familiar musical genres and can help develop people’s creativity. These shows take place Saturdays through March at 7 p.m. and select Saturdays in April and May.
“Space still fascinates people from old to young,” Snyder says. “So many people don’t know what they’re missing out on here. I like seeing people excited about space in the nighttime sky and then leaving with a different view.”
7625 High Market St.
910-575-0033 or 910-579-1016
Hours through May 20:
Fri. and Sat., doors open 11:30 a.m.|
Shows, noon-3 p.m.
See Web site for schedule