For a family-friendly Christmas activity, look no further than the Forestview Middle School planetarium in Baxter.
The planetarium runs two different holiday-themed shows each night of the week for two weeks leading up to Christmas. Festivities began Tuesday, Dec. 10.
At 6 p.m., “Cosmic Christmas,” geared toward children ages 6 and up, lights up the dome in similar fashion to a laser show, planetarium Director Brian Wallace said.
“It’s basically a full video over the entire dome. And there are certain characters that show up, like the Grinch and Frosty and Rudolph,” he said during a phone interview Wednesday, Dec. 11. “... It’s very visual, very bright and a lot of fun.”
At 7 p.m., “Mystery of the Christmas Star,” geared toward those 13 and up, aims to draw in an older crowd for a more educational experience and discussion of what the Star of Bethlehem might have been.
“There are different accounts for when the star happened, what the star was,” Wallace said. “And so this show explores different ideas around that same question.”
Ahead of each show, Wallace treats audiences to a sky talk.
“What I do is start with the sunset, and I talk about the current visible objects in the sky and take the audience through an entire night of what they can expect to see in the night sky and at certain times,” he said, noting he talks about what constellations and planets will appear what and when and how the moon will appear.
“That’s the power of what a planetarium can teach us about, right? The night sky and what stars and planets are visible, and so that’s what I do to begin with at each show,” Wallace added.
The shows run through Thursday, Dec. 19, and are free but require online registration. All the 6 p.m. Cosmic Christmas shows are sold out already, but there are still spots available for the later shows.
“It’s really a lot of fun to see the response and the interest level of the planetarium,” Wallace said.
The sky talk before each show is a half-hour, with the actual show running 30-35 minutes.
Wallace also runs other seasonal shows throughout the year the planetarium, which is fully funded by Sourcewell’s innovation funding and attracts students from 22 school districts in the Region Five area.
In October, Wallace ran a Halloween-themed “Spooky Space” show and plans to run a spring show sometime in late spring 2020.
For more information on the Forestview planetarium, or to reserve a seat for an upcoming holiday show, visit fmsplanetarium.com.
For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/34k62R3.