Public Sky Shows

  • The U-46 Planetarium is a classroom in which 150-200 students visit daily for an astronomy lesson at their grade level. There are no weekend public hours. The building is utilized full time during the school year for scheduled U-46 classes.

    During the school year, we also open the doors of the Elgin National Watch Company and Elgin School District U-46 Planetarium on select evenings for the general public. The shows last about one hour and includes time looking at the the current sky and a history of the entire building. An astronomical topic is also explored through lecture, imagery and/or a full dome video presentation.  The public is welcome at all shows, but the theme for each show may dictate an age range that is be most appropriate. The theme for each show is included on the flier for that particular show. 

    An optional self-guided tour of the building is available to anyone interested before the start of the public shows. The observatory dome housing the transit telescope has stairs (no elevator) to access it. It is not necessary to visit the observatory to enjoy the planetarium show in the chamber that is wheelchair accessible.

    Typically two identical shows are presented at 4:30 p.m. and the other 6:30 p.m. Check the official times on the latest flyers.

    • Cost of admission for the public shows is $3 or $10 maximum for a family of four or more. Cash or check only, no credit cards please..
    • Visitors are welcome to park in the free public lot one block away from the Observatory/Planetarium at the corner of National and Raymond Streets. There is an accessible ramp to the building. Please call with questions about handicapped parking. 
    • Seating for the shows is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. We do not take reservations for the public shows.

    Recent/Upcoming Shows

    Click on any date for more information

    Special Event: Sat. 4/**/2020 "Open Elgin" is an event that offers self guided building tours at dozens of cool Elgin buildings, including the Observatory/Planetarium. The building will be open for walk-thoughs from (tentatively) 1-5pm. Parking will be allowed 1-5pm on south side (Planetarium side) of Watch St on 4/**/2020 only. Free parking is also available at the corner of Watch St. and Raymond St.  The whole event is free! 

    Tues. October 15, 2019
    Flight Adventures, an elementary geared show about aeronautics, plus a viewingof the night sky

    Wed. December 11, 2019

    A show featuring the winter solstice and the long winter night sky

    Mon. Feb 3, 2020

    Mayan Archeology, a family geared show, plus a viewing of the late winter sky

    Fri. May 8, 2020

    Featuring the historical connection between time telling, the Elgin National Watch Factory and the U-46 Planetarium