The SFSU Planetarium has been providing free shows for school children in San Francisco and beyond since we opened in 1973. Every year we do dozens of shows for SFUSD and Bay Area school groups, for ages ranging from kindergarten to high school.
Our planetarium shows are live and interactive. We show the night sky as it is seen from Earth and tell the audience about the things they can see there. Since a human being is operating the equipment and talking, the shows adjust to the needs and interests of each audience.
Our planetarium is relatively small, it holds 45 people. In such a space every member of the audience can be heard and has the opportunity to ask questions.
What to do if you want a school show?
If you have a school group you would like to bring to our planetarium, please contact us. Before you come with your group, please read our Rules and Guidelines. If you are at SF State or at another college, please see Public Shows.
What times are available?
Currently, shows for schools are most available on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Occasionally, other times can be scheduled by special arrangement.
What are the shows like?
In the planetarium, we show the stars and highlight the prominent constellations and tell their stories. We show how the stars change their position during a night and over the year. We see how the sun rises, moves across the sky, and sets each day, and how that changes during the year and causes the seasons. We show the moon and how its appearance and position among the stars changes during a month. We see the planets, which look like stars to the eye, and how they move against the background of stars over weeks and months.
For younger groups, the emphasis is on the appearance of the night sky and its changes, and the identification of famous constellations they've heard of, and their stories. For a younger group, the show might last 30 minutes, with a question and answer period afterwards.
For older groups, the emphasis is on understanding the reason for the changes that occur in the sky, and considering and evaluating the various models that have been used historically to explain those changes. For an older group, a show might last 45 minutes, with a question and answer period afterwards.
Please note that because the shows are live and interactive, they are adjusted in real-time to the abilities and interests of the audience. Therefore, these descriptions of content and length for younger and older groups are not strict rules but are adjusted according to the audience.