Young Planetarians

Young Planetarians is a 7-week program at Longway Planetarium that teaches students in grades 6-8 different topics in astronomy including constellation identification, solar systems, galaxies, distances in space, and how to operate a simple telescope. In the process the students will learn to operate the planetarium and the final week will collectively give a planetarium star talk to their family and friends. Food will be provided for families on the final week.

This multi-week camp is for kids in grades 6-8 happening every Thursday from February 2 through March 16 from 4:30-5:30 PM. The cost is $90 for each student. Register online now or call 810-237-3409. 

February 2 What is astronomy?

We will begin with the most basic observations and what these must mean. We’ll talk about the hypothesis of Aristotle, move to Copernicus, and look at some observations of Galileo. In the dome we will get our bearings with the North star and circumpolar constellations

February 9 Star and solar system formation

We will look at the shape and motion of our solar system and create hypotheses on how it could have formed. We will then use this to wonder about whether it seems like our solar system should be unique. We will also touch on the inner workings of stars and their eventual fates. This may spill into next week. In the dome we will review circumpolar stars and learn about the summer sky.

February 16 Outside the solar system

As we began to point telescopes toward the sky, we realized that some of those things looked fairly bizarre for stars. We will talk about the ‘island universes’ that we know today as galaxies and we will discuss the large structure of the universe. In the dome we will review previous stars and learn about the coming fall sky.

February 23 Stellar parallax

How do we know how far the stars are? We will use concrete examples in the Longway lobby to demonstrate the concept of parallax, then we will question how we can apply this to figuring out distances to stars. In the dome we will review previous stars and learn about the springtime constellations and if time permits learn details of planets.

March 12 Telescope theory and how telescopes work

We will discuss the different type of telescopes and how we use these simple machines to aid our ability to see. In the dome we will review previous stars and learn about the winter sky.


We will continue to practice using telescopes and we will have a longer period under the dome this night to be ready for our star talks the next week. Each student will get 7 tickets for the indoor picnic, one for themselves, 6 for family and friends.

March 16 Indoor Picnic & Star Talks

All friends/family are welcome to come hear the star talks of students and participate in the star gazing. The tickets given out the previous week are for food, any food left after 5:30 pm is free for all comers. People are welcome to bring their own food as well.

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