By Austin Caroline
Youngstown State University’s Ward Beecher Planetarium is starting its annual Christmas shows on weekends in December leading up to Christmas.
The first program is titled “Let It Snow.” This program is an artistic representation of the holidays and winter combined with thematic music projected onto the planetarium’s dome roof, creating a color and music-filled experience suitable for all ages.
Tiffany Wolbrecht, a planetarium lecturer, said each showing of “Let It Snow” is unique because of the little differences the control staff make.
“The people in control of the lights differ every time we do this show, and each one of them likes to add their own little flair,” Wolbrecht said.
The second program is titled “The Alien Who Stole Christmas.” It follows Santa and an alien, Mr. Freep, as they visit planets of the solar system to see how the inhabitants celebrate Christmas Eve.
Wolbrecht said this program is designed to give kids something fun to watch, while also entertaining the whole family.
Curt Spivey, the planetarium’s engineer and show producer, said the planetarium has shown a musical holiday presentation for over 20 years. He also said YSU continually upgrades the planetarium’s technology to give visitors a great experience.
“We had a 4K full dome video system installed in 2017 and we also have 5.1 digital surround sound in the planetarium,” Spivey said.
He said this technology is what allows him and the staff to make the shows the highest quality.
Patrick Durrell, the planetarium’s director, said he hopes people will come and enjoy the shows since they were unable to hold in-person events last year.
“We are thrilled to see people come out and enjoy the shows,” Durrell said. “For over a year we could only present shows online, which is a rather big change from the live presentations that we much prefer to do.”
Durrell said the planetarium takes the safety of its visitors seriously, especially when it comes to stopping the spread of the coronavirus. The planetarium requires all visitors to wear masks when attending planetarium shows, regardless of vaccination status.
Spivey said attendance for the planetarium’s shows has increased, but attendance for the shows geared toward children has been light due to the pandemic. However, the staff anticipate an uptick in turnout because children ages 5-11 can now be vaccinated.
“Let It Snow” shows take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 and 17; 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11; and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18.
“The Alien Who Stole Christmas” show takes place at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.
For more information, visit https://www.wbplanetarium.org or call 330-941-1370