UW Planetarium

The University of Washington Planetarium brings dynamic and interactive shows to students of all ages and backgrounds. Featuring data-driven astronomical image, presented by enthusiastic volunteers, we serve UW students, K-12 groups, and the public. Follow us on Facebook, and Instagram!

Can’t bring your group to campus? Consider seeing if the UW Mobile Planetarium can come to you!

Visiting

We offer free shows to student groups and the public:

  • Student groups of up to 40 people are typically scheduled on a first-requested, first-served basis on Fridays during the UW’s academic year. Shows are generally 45 minutes in length. Check current availability.
  • The general public can reserve free tickets for our First Friday Public Shows, which are typically scheduled on the first Friday evening of each month during the UW’s academic year. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Please be aware that our shows are very popular and book up quickly. Please check back on a monthly basis for new show dates.

While you are here, consider visiting the Burke Museum, or one of our many on-campus cafes.

Plan Your Visit

Location

The Planetarium is located on the UW-Seattle Campus in the Physics and Astronomy Auditorium (PAA) building. The closest on-campus parking is the Central Plaza Garage (see below), a five-minute walk away. PAA is on the left side of the courtyard as you enter from Stevens Way. The planetarium is on the second floor, room A220, near the end of the hall. The second floor is accessible via spiral staircase or the elevator, which is located to the right of the stairwell.

Planetarium directions

In the image on the right, the main garage entrances are circled in red. From the garage, walk along Grant Lane towards Stevens Way. Turn right onto Stevens Way, and walk south to the entrance of the Physics and Astronomy court yard, where you will see a large “Peanut” sculpture. Enter the Auditorium which is the building on your left. In the building, go up the stairs by the pendulum to the second floor. On the second floor the planetarium is in room A220 near the end of the hall.

Driving to Campus

Self-serve parking is available in the Central Plaza Garage on levels C02, C03 and C04. Drivers may bypass the gatehouse, park on levels C02, C03 or C04, and then use PayByPhone to purchase a parking permit. More information is available from UW Transportation Services, or at any gatehouse.

The closest drop-off locations near the planetarium are the 30 minute load/unload zones located on W Stevens Way NE just north of PAA.

If you plan to park a bus on campus, you must request parking with UW Transportation Services Event Parking, who will help arrange load/unload locations.

Accessibility

An elevator is available for guests with limited mobility. If your group requires any accommodations for any special learning needs, an ASL translator or non-English language translator, please write to planetarium@uw.edu.

Accessible parking is available. For more information see the accessible parking page.

Code of Conduct

In keeping with the University-wide Codes of Conduct, the UW Planetarium is dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming space for all visitors. We firmly emphasize the importance of respecting diversity and embracing people of all backgrounds, identities, and beliefs. Hate speech or discrimination based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or any personal characteristics will not be tolerated. We believe in mutual respect and the value of diverse perspectives. Your cooperation in upholding these values ensures that the UW planetarium remains a place where everyone can explore the mysteries of the universe in an atmosphere of respect and shared humanity.

If you witness or experience behavior contrary to these principles, please inform the Program Director or our volunteering staff.

Become a Presenter

Our planetarium provides volunteer opportunities for both students, and members of the Seattle community who wish to become a planetarium presenter. We prioritize the safety and quality of the experience for all by ensuring that all volunteers undergo background checks and receive necessary certifications before participating in our programs.

If you would like to volunteer with the UW Planetarium us, please contact the Program Director directly or see our volunteering page.

Support Our Programs

Your support helps UW students bring their passion for astronomy to the public. Please consider making a gift to the Friends of Planetariums fund.

About

The planetarium is a unique classroom on campus, built as part of the Physics and Astronomy building in 1994. The dome is 30 feet in diameter and originally included a Minolta MS-8, a precisely constructed optical/mechanical system that projected an accurate view of the night sky. The planetarium was transformed into a fully digital dome with an 8-million-pixel display in 2009 in collaboration with Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope team (see Rosenfield et al. 2010). In 2015 and 2020, the UW Student Technology Fee funded new projectors and computers, ensuring the planetarium's relevance and capacity to serve the community.

The UW planetarium is under leadership of Program Director Anastasios (Andy) Tzanidakis, with oversight provided by Oliver Fraser. The planetarium is equipped with state-of-the-art projectors and immersive audio systems, providing guests with an exceptional astronomical experience. 

News

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where is the planetarium located? The planetarium is on the second floor of the Physics/Astronomy Auditorium, room A220 at the end of the hall. You can find the building on a campus map.
  • Is the planetarium handicap-accessible? Yes, the planetarium building is accessible. There is an elevator to the right of the pendulum that will take you to the 2nd floor, where the planetarium is located.
  • When do you offer shows for large groups? Show are offered for groups on Fridays during the regular academic quarter between the hours of 10am and 1pm. There is a request form for group visits below. We do not offer regular shows during the summer.
  • When do you offer shows for individuals or small groups (<5 people)? There are typically four public shows on the first Friday of the month at 5:30pm, 6:30pm,  7:30pm, and 8:30pm. Shows are free, but you must reserve tickets in advance for these shows due to the limited capacity of the planetarium. The ticketing link is posted on our Facebook page, usually the Sunday preceding the first Friday of the month.
  • Do you offer shows on weekends? Unfortunately, we do not offer shows on weekends as campus buildings are locked on Saturdays and Sundays, making the planetarium inaccessible to volunteers and visitors.
  • What is the cost for a planetarium show? All shows at the planetarium are free! If you enjoy your group visit, or one of the public shows please consider donating.
  • How long is a planetarium show? Shows are typically 45 minutes in length, but with time for questions at the end they may run closer to an hour.
  • What is the seating capacity in the planetarium? The planetarium can seat 40 people. Group reservations, including chaperones and students, are not to exceed this number as it is our fire code capacity. If you have a larger group, please make separate requests for shows.
  • What should I do if my preferred date and time is not on the group visit request form below? Some dates and times during the current quarter may not be on the form because they are already booked. Our shows are very popular, and tend to book up 1-2 months in advance, so please plan accordingly. Shows are also scheduled on a quarterly basis, so in general we will not schedule a group visit more than 3 months ahead of time.
  • Do you offer shows during the summer months? Due to limited volunteer availability outside the academic year we do not offer regular summer shows or group visits. We also generally cannot schedule shows more than 3 months in advance of the requested date.
  • How do I become a volunteer? See the FAQ for volunteers, or contact the planetarium coordinator to see when the next planetarium training session will be held.
  • Where can I or my group eat lunch on campus before or after a show? There is food-court style dining at the Husky Union Building (HUB), though during peak lunch hours it may be difficult to find seating for a large group. See the Housing and Food Services webpage for more dining options on campus.
  • What other activities do you offer for groups before or after the planetarium show? Because we are completely volunteer run, we do not have the capacity to offer or help plan any activities on campus for groups outside of the planetarium show. Please plan your campus visit accordingly.

Group Visits

Planetarium shows are given on a purely volunteer basis. We gladly serve UW groups, K-12 groups that are studying astronomy, and public groups (such as astronomy clubs or scouts). The planetarium is open to these groups on Fridays during the academic year with presentations starting between the hours of 10am and 1pm, on a first-requested, first-served basis. If your preferred date and time do not appear on the drop-down menu below, it is because that time slot is already booked, or unavailable. Please be aware that our shows are very popular and book up quickly. Please plan to book about 1-2 months ahead of your intended visit. Unfortunately, we do not offer any activities outside of the planetarium show itself. Shows have no fee but donations towards the upkeep of our planetarium are gladly accepted.

Schedule a Show

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