The following planetariums and observatories in the Puget Sound region and around Washington State have regularly scheduled public shows that have free or cheap admission of $15 or less. Unlike outdoor stargazing parties, these indoor shows are usually held rain or shine and feature a variety of topics related to atmospheric science and astronomy (such as stars, sun, moon, planets, space, galaxies, comets, gas, cosmic dust…).
Planetariums feature digital videos displayed on a dome-shaped screen with breathtaking images of the universe or interesting detail on related topics such as telescopes, space travel, and even earthly topics such as math and sea creatures. Observatories offer viewing of the night sky through telescopes (weather permitting). Some facilities offer both digital planetarium shows as well as live telescope viewing.
Bellevue Planetarium Shows
Bellevue College Willard Geer Planetarium, 3000 Landerholm Cir SE, Bellevue, WA 98007. The Astronomy Department and Science and Math Institute offer free digital planetarium shows on their domed screen with accurate depiction of the night sky. Planetarium shows are held on select Fridays. Reservations can be made through Brown Paper Tickets by searching on “Bellevue Planetarium.” Walk-ins may be available, only on a space available basis. Admission is free.
Lakewood Science Dome Shows
Pierce College Science Dome, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, 9401 Farwest Drive SW, Lakewood, WA USA 98498. The digital planetarium provides an interactive tour of the current night sky and fulldome videos on a variety of astronomy and space topics. Public Shows are held every Friday and Saturday during the year, and additionally on Wednesdays in summer. There are two types of programs Children’s Shows and All-Ages Shows. Admission is $6.
Seattle Planetariums & Observatories
University of Washington Theodor Jacobsen Observatory, 4324 Memorial Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98105. The UW Seattle Observatory’s 6-inch refracting telescope provides celestial views of the Universe. Free talks are offered twice monthly from April-September. Seating is limited and reservations are strongly recommended; see their website for more information. If the sky is clear enough, the dome will be open for viewing celestial objects through the ancient telescope. Admission is free.
University of Washington Planetarium, Physics-Astronomy Building, 3910 15th Ave NE, Room C319, Seattle WA 98195. The UW Seattle Planetarium features a 30-foot diameter fully digital dome for an interactive and immersive planetarium experience. Public shows are offered on the first and third Fridays; reservations are required. The ticketing link is posted on the UW Planetarium Facebook page, usually the Sunday preceding the first and third Fridays of the month. Admission is free.
Other Washington State Planetariums & Observatories
Spanel Planetarium (100 miles north of Seattle) at Western Washington University, 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. Located in Haggard Hall, the 24-foot dome has weekly public shows featuring topics that rotate monthly. Each show includes a presentation about seasonal constellations, Q&A session when the audience is invited to ask questions, and a full-dome video. Admission is free.
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