Volunteer FAQs

How do I become a volunteer?Volunteers must have a suitable working knowledge of astronomy, attend a planetarium training session, and complete a background check before being able to give planetarium shows. Volunteers can be UW students or community members. For more information on volunteering please email the planetarium coordinator. Upcoming training sessions (held in the planetarium–PAA A220):

Thursday, March 17 at 3pm

Additional Spring dates TBA (please get in touch with the planetarium coordinator if you’re interested in attending a training.)

What is the volunteer commitment? At least one Friday per quarter, you will be asked to give planetarium shows. Shows are an hour long, but beginner presenters will likely want to schedule 1-2 hours of additional prep time for each of their shows. Contact the planetarium coordinator to set up individual or group practice time on the calendar.

How do I get trained to operate the planetarium? A couple times per quarter, we will have a training session so that you can learn to use the system and find out the capabilities of the planetarium. Otherwise, you can take the ‘Astronomy Outreach’ course—currently Astro 270, where Ana Larson will train you in astronomy outreach techniques, including how to give planetarium shows.

How can I find more information about the planetarium software? The WorldWide Telescope software has an online interface, so you can practice using it at home.

Who would I be presenting to? Our primary audiences are K-12 groups visiting us on field trips, although we occasionally host community colleges and groups of adults from UW. On the first Friday of each month we also put on free shows for the public, and these events have been wildly popular.

When can I use the planetarium for practice? The planetarium is available for practice most weekdays during normal work hours (8am-5pm). Before using the planetarium for practice you will need to check with the planetarium coordinator to make sure your requested practice time is available.

Where do I get the key for the planetarium? The planetarium key is housed in the Astronomy Department main office (3rd floor of PAB). The office is open from 8am-5pm, but closed from 12pm-1pm for lunch. You can check out the key for practice time or a for show during the hours the front office is open, but you must return the key when you are finished. Keys may not be held overnight or over the weekend, unless under very special circumstances.