Cabrillo Planetarium

The Cabrillo College Planetarium is Closed to the Public, Alas, During the CoVid Pandemic. We'll change this message when re-opening happens. Thanks for your interest!


The Cabrillo Astronomy Department has a small planetarium below room 706 in the Natural and Applied Sciences 700 building. It is used to demonstrate the motions of the earth and sky for astronomy students, and also for planetarium shows for community groups. The projector is an old Spitz A3P, upgraded in 1990 with a zenon light source. The original hard wooden chairs were taken out and replaced by the volunteer efforts of the Cabrillo Astronomy Club, especially Tom Trumbull, with padded chairs salvaged from a remodelled court room in San Jose in 1991.

Planetarium Shows

I offer 1-hour planetarium shows on the solar system for community groups. Because of my schedule, these shows are only available to be scheduled on Monday afternoons after 1:20pm. The show is given live, and includes slides on the solar system including the sun, planets, moons, comets, meteors, and a few special effects. These shows are available to schedule by emailing me at rinolthe at You can also call me at 423-6715, but emailing is much preferable to phone tag, for me. Please leave your name, email address, and desired start time and date. I'll then post your reservation on the schedule shown below. There are 47 seats and no more than 47 people may be in the planetarium at one time. There is a $50 charge payable on arrival for all groups, regardless of size. (Note that I have kept this fee unchanged for my 30+ years at Cabrillo) I can give you a receipt on Cabrillo letterhead at the time of the show, if you would like. The shows are suitable for all ages. Groups from pre-school on up to high school have all enjoyed these presentations.


Location, Parking.

The planetarium is in the 700 Building, on the upper campus. It's labelled "planetarium" on the outside door - 706 - which is also my office door. Click here for a map. You may park in most of the parking lots on campus. Day permits are $2 and can be bought at the yellow automated parking permit dispensers in the parking lots. There is a bus stop on Soquel right below the bookstore, and also at the top of the upper campus next to the 700 building parking lot.


The Show

The show starts with the sun setting in the west. As the lights dim, Brian Eno's "On Land" accompanies the first stars of the evening sky. I point out some constellations and show how the sky moves as the earth rotates. Then we begin our slide show of the solar system, with pictures presented on the domed ceiling. Starting with the sun and Mercury on through all the planets as seen by the spacecraft which have travelled the solar system. We let the kids add their own spin to the wierd moons of the outer solar system, trying to guess what they looked like to the astronomers who first saw these pictures. In between we talk a bit about "mayhem from asteroids".The slides conclude with pictures of some of the brightest comets of the 20th century, and asteroid impacts of the past. I then show the stars spinning through the night, pointing out upcoming constellations, and finally ending with dawn and sunrise. If there's time, I will take a few concluding questions. I can fine-tune my talking points to suit you! A brief description of each of my slides is here

Science Projects Opportunities

I've been a judge at many science fairs, from K-6, on up to the Intel International. I love helping young people get excited about science. We have a well-equipped observatory on campus, in the last wilderness area on College property at the Aptos Campus. It's dark, without any interfering lights. We have a 12" telescope which has a great digital camera which takes color pictures. Students can control the telescope and camera while sipping hot chocolate in the "warm room" in the captain's chair. Astronomy in general and Santa Cruz County astronomy (UCSC, Cabrillo) in particular has a dedicated commitment to increase the number of women in science and in astronomy. If you have a bright young student who wants to do a science project in astronomy, please contact me and I'd be happy to help him or her with their project.

Spring '21 Schedule Your 1 hr show may start any time from 1:30-4:30pm on Mondays below... (but, we're closed for now and expect to remain closed for the Spring '21 period. This calendar is hope, not reality!

Feb 1 - open

Feb 8 - open

Feb 22 - open

Mar 1 - open

Mar 8 - open

Mar 15 - open

Mar 22 - open

Mar 29 - open

Apr 5 - open

Apr 12 - open

Apr 19 - open

Apr 26 - open

May 3 - open

May 10 - open





back to Rick's Home Page (starBall diagnosis)