The Marie Drake Planetarium

Where the stars always shine in Juneau, AK

2018 Shows and Events

Public Shows

An artist's impression of gravitational waves generated by binary neutron stars.

Gravitational Waves
Presentation by Steve Kocsis
'Gravitational Waves' - Predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity in 1916 but, not observed until 2015, gravitational waves are created by extremely dense objects - like neutron stars and black holes - orbiting in pairs. The dynamics of these objects distorts space-time, creating ripples that can be detected with sensitive instruments. Three American scientists received the 2017 Nobel prize in Physics for their roles in the discovery.

Skywatching and Ancient Calendars
 Rosemary will talk about skywatching and ancient calendars. What do all ancient calendars have in common? They all used rhythms of our planet and our skies – the Sun, the Moon, the stars, and the seasons. What exactly are these cycles? How do these astronomical cycles appear in ancient calendars and structures such as those of the Babylonians, British Islands, Maya, and indigenous Americans? How do they still affect our modern timekeeping? Rosemary's talk is aimed for children 10 and up and adults, but anyone may attend. Presenter Rosemary Walling has taught astronomy at UAS and is a planetarium board member.
Degenerate Stars
White Dwarfs, neutron stars, quark stars and black holes are the remains of stars after gravitational collapse. Very strange. A neutron star dice pair would weigh 2 billion tons. They have been observed from their light and gravitational waves.

Followed by ‘The Sky Tonight’ on the Spitz projector.
Presenter Steve Kocsis, has taught astronomy at UAS.

The Moon - Our Nearest Neighbor

Presentation by Steve Kocsis

  • The definition of a moon
  • Composition of the moon (not cheese)
  • Find out about the "dark' side of moon.
  • Moon exploration
  • Lunar and solar eclipses

Stephen Hawking's Science

May 19th

Part of Juneau Jazz and Classics

Table at this free family event.

Volunteer Meetings

Five meetings May - August

Total Solar Eclipse Humor

Steve Kocsis, who has taught astronomy at UAS, will briefly explain how and why total solar eclipses occur and play a video of the 2017 total solar eclipse. Cristina will then share her humorous view of total solar eclipses, some of which are from the four total solar eclipses she has witnessed. 

Our Growing Universe

A presentation about the expansion of the universe and how we know it's happening. Includes discussion on the Big Bang, Edwin Hubble, dark energy, and the oldest light in the universe.

Given by Sarah Graber. a TMHS grad, currently pursuing a bachelor's in astrophysics at Columbia University in New York.

Image from


David Hanson will discuss astro-photography in general and discuss some of the challenges of imaging in Juneau. First, he will go through a gallery of his astro images and talk about the objects in the images. Then he will  speak in more detail about the equipment, techniques and software used for astrophotography.

Dave will have a telescope set up on a tripod and mount with a camera, so small children must be watched by their parents so they don't touch the equipment. David is a local amateur astronomer who specializes in astro imaging. 

From Sojourner to Curiosity:  Twenty Years on Mars
Rosemary Walling, who teaches astronomy at UAS, will talk about Mars. She will explore what the Earth rovers - Spirit, Curiosity and Opportunity have to tell us about Mars. The exploration of Mars is the study of Mars by spacecraft. Probes from Earth, beginning in the late twentieth century, have yielded great increases in knowledge about Martian geology, dynamics and the possibility of Martian life.

The Big Dipper:  Facts and Fun

The Sands of Time

Two views of time will be discussed: Newton's view that it is absolute, the same everywhere, and Einstein's view that it is relative, different for each observer. 

Science experiments support Einstein. Philosophy presents three views: eternalism, presentism and growing block theory. No consensus among the philosophers. 

The presentation is abstract and aimed for adults, but anyone may attend.

Astronauts Celebrate Chrismas

Learn how real and fictional astronauts celebrate Christmas.

Community Group Presentations


School Group Presentations

  • UAS Celestial Navigation Class
  • Harborview