By Jack Dawson
Youngstown State University’s Ward Beecher Planetarium is broadening its horizons. At the end of January, the planetarium is unveiling a new show called “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.”
The show features familiar faces from the children’s show “Sesame Street,” such as Big Bird and Elmo and features a new character, Hu Hu Zhu. The show is aimed at a younger audience, but is designed to be enjoyable for patrons of all ages.
Curt Spivey, planetarium engineer from the department of physics and astronomy, said the show was created by collaborative efforts by an American and Chinese planetarium.
“Other planetariums that have had this show said it has been, by far, their most wildly popular show,” Spivey said.
In addition to teaching children about the night sky, the show aims to unite different cultures, Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht, a planetarium lecturer from the department of physics and astronomy said.
“We may live in different countries and have different cultures, but we all share the same sky,” Stone Wolbrecht said.
The show was designed to always be relevant and enjoyable and has received a positive response from children.
“When kids are there it’s like magic, the whole room transforms, they’re singing and laughing. It definitely taps into the younger age group,” Stone Wolbrecht said.
“One of the main goals of the planetarium is to get people from the community interested and involved with astronomy. To have a show for kids gets them interested at a young age. If I can get people to go home and look at the night sky than I’ve done my job, no matter what the age,” Spivey said.
The planetarium hopes the show will instill kids with a love for science and astronomy at a young age and lead them to appreciate science as they grow up.
“We’re all born little scientists. Little kids are all born with a natural curiosity and a desire to understand the world around us. It’s something we might lose as we get older, but if we provide good influence and experience when kids are still in that phase they can grow up with that curiosity and appreciation for science,” Stone Wolbrecht said.
Jill Mogg, an administrative assistant for the department of astronomy and physics, said the department has been very proactive in publicizing the shows they have been offering this year on social media.
It’s a good opportunity to advertise and hopefully reach a wider audience within the community, Mogg said.
“The planetarium is a jewel in our community. The earlier you get young visitors in to enjoy it the better. It creates a love for the planetarium that will keep them coming back for years to come,” Mogg said.
Other new shows being shown by the planetarium are, “Moons: Worlds of Mystery” and “Let It Snow” which is a holiday themed show.
A full listing of the planetariums offerings can be found on, wbplanetarium.org.