Maybe you remember going to the planetarium for a school trip? Or perhaps at a museum in a big city? Check out Fort Wayne’s own planetarium, the Edwin Clark Schouweiler Memorial Planetarium, located on the campus of the University of St. Francis. The Schouweiler Planetarium (say Shoe-wi-ler) is a staple for star gazing with an educational twist.
Hosting elementary field trips, holiday themed events, and just plain interesting shows for the public during festivals, this planetarium is cool for any age. Located inside the Achatz Hall of Science, the planetarium boasts a Spitz Model A4 projector, 75 seats, and the capacity to project images of the Milky Way, 2100 stars, and a host of other galactic phenomena. The comfortable seats recline, just a little, so you can see quite well from almost any seat in the studio. Note – you might want to avoid the very last row, next to the wall, if you don’t want to miss the starry action that occurs behind your head.
If you visit the Planetarium, you’ll enter through a pair of double doors and walk into a round room. A giant machine, rather resembling a large ant, is in the center, on a raised circular platform. This is the Spitz Projector. Star Trek-style seats fill the room, with a few handy aisles between the rows. What may really command your attention are the constellation images painted on the walls of the planetarium. Black lights mounted up in the low edge of the ceiling turn the shapes into glowing, neon designs. These constellations look real - they require little imagination to tell which is Taurus the Bull or Pisces the Fish or the Gemini Twins. And, as an added bonus, if you’re wearing light-colored clothing, it will glow in the blacklight with a purplish haze. Kids and adults like to stroll under the lights before a show, just to see if their shoe laces glow.
To see a show at the Shouweiler Planetarium, patrons should call about four weeks in advance of their desired show date. Visitors make reservations for the planetarium, then choose which program they want to see. Shows range in age-suitability from kindergarten through adult, with at least 11 different programs. Prices are listed on the Planetarium’s website – and they are quite low. Discounts for seniors, children, and families with children are also explained. For group attendance, exact prices per person are listed along with the different shows – cost varies by the program chosen. Shows are also done for specific events, like area festivals and the Christmas season. For these programs, you simply show up – you don’t have to request space at the planetarium ahead of time. Watch the Planetarium’s website, sign up for their electronic updates, and check out the Fort Wayne Visitor’s Bureau website for more information. You don’t want to miss the chance to explore the sky at Schouweiler!
Louisa is a lifelong Fort Wayne resident. A long-time musician and literature aficionado, Louisa likes to explore the classical music offerings that Fort Wayne has to offer. (She also likes to browse the Allen County Public Library's stacks for just the right book!)