UA's Flandrau Planetarium Theater to Reopen After Remodeling
After undergoing an extensive makeover during the summer, the theater will reopen to the public with three new FullDome immersive visual experiences.

University Relations – Communications
Aug. 24, 2016


Senior lecturer Thomas Fleming teaches an astronomy class in the newly renovated theater at the UA's Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.
Senior lecturer Thomas Fleming teaches an astronomy class in the newly renovated theater at the UA's Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. (Photo: Shiloe Fontes/Flandrau)

Thanks to a gift from the Eos Foundation, the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium at the University of Arizona now has a beautiful new theater. After an extensive renovation completed over the summer, the remodeled venue now features new seating, acoustic enhancements and lighting along with an improved layout for its planetarium shows.

"Since Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium first opened in 1975, generations of Tucsonans have discovered the stars and planets in our planetarium theater," says Kellee Campbell, Flandrau's executive director. "The years since then have seen what many call the golden age of planetary science, because we've learned so much about our solar system. Over the past 40 years, NASA missions have visited every planet that orbits our sun. The University of Arizona has played a leading role in many of those missions."

As robotic explorers crossed the solar system and revealed more secrets of the planets and their moons, the planetarium shared the excitement of those discoveries with the public. But over the years, the interior of theater never was updated, and it became more difficult to keep the seats repaired.

"For the students who take classes in the theater every semester, and for the thousands of schoolkids and families who love to explore new science in the planetarium, a renovation was long overdue," Campbell says. "We are delighted and honored that the Eos Foundation chose to continue the tradition of giving for science education.

"The University and the entire Tucson community are deeply grateful to the Eos Foundation for the beautiful renovation."

To honor the transformative contribution, the new theater is named the Eos Foundation Theater.

Philanthropy has played a significant role in the history of Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, which came into existence through a gift from Grace Flandrau, bringing science from the University to the greater Tucson community.

"Ms. Flandrau's gift has touched generations of students, families and schoolchildren who visited the planetarium to learn about the stars and planets," Campbell says, "and many of those boys and girls have gone on to careers in science."

Two years ago, a coalition of donors enabled the installation of the FullDome digital projection system that already has captivated thousands of visitors.

The latest makeover enhances the state-of-the-art FullDome digital projection system; the Uniview system enables Flandrau to offer dazzling visual programs covering a range of science topics. It also includes a three-dimensional model of the solar system and the known universe, constructed from real scientific data, which planetarium operators can use to "pilot" the audience through space to planets and moons as if they were aboard a spaceship.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, Flandrau will celebrate the grand reopening of the new planetarium theater. For this special event, Flandrau will offer free admission to all exhibits and the UA Mineral Museum. Tickets to all planetarium shows will be discounted at $3.

New Planetarium Shows This Fall

As part of the event, Flandrau will introduce three new FullDome shows for its fall schedule:

"Asteroid – Mission Extreme": Produced by National Geographic, this film takes the audience on a visually stunning journey to an asteroid, exploring how these giant space rocks could be used as steppingstones for human space exploration. Learn about the science of asteroids and the potential danger they pose to Earth. All showings of this program will include an OSIRIS-REx planetarium show about the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission led by the UA for NASA, scheduled for launch on Sept. 8.

"Mysteries of the Unseen World": Produced by National Geographic with the latest in electron microscope technology, this show will help audiences begin to understand the enormity of the world they can't see — a world that exists all around us at speeds or scales that we can’t detect. All showings include a talk about black holes.

"We Are Stars": A fun, beautifully animated FullDome film about cosmic chemistry, this show reveals how hydrogen and carbon, the very building blocks of life, first formed in the universe and follows those elements all the way back to us.

In addition to these programs, Flandrau also will offer its popular "live" planetarium shows piloted by planetarium operators. "Touring the Solar System" journeys to all the planets and delivers the latest discoveries in planetary science. "Tucson Sky and Beyond" explores what there is to see in the night sky at this time of the year, which is perfect for stargazing.

Extra info

On Saturday, the same day as the grand reopening of the planetarium theater, the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (next door to Flandrau on the UA Mall) will host a free, public pre-launch event for the OSIRIS-REx mission that features speakers from the UA's mission team, historical perspectives on asteroids from the UA Department of English, and family-friendly science education activities. For more about the event:

Along with free exhibit admission and $3 planetarium shows, the RoadRunner Mobile Kitchen will be on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to serve both events.

Parking is free in the Cherry Avenue parking lot on Saturday. For more information, go to the Flandrau website: 


Resources for the media

Shipherd Reed

UA Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium