Nutmeg State nights

Connecticut carries the nicknames of the Constitution State and the Nutmeg State, but it could also be known as the Planetarium State.

For a fairly small state, Connecticut has a surprisingly high number of planetariums ready to introduce residents to the vast wonders of the heavens. 

For star-seekers looking into Connecticut’s celestial portal, here are the venues that can transport all ages into the astronomy realm. 

COPERNICAN OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM

Named in honor of the groundbreaking astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, this venue is on the campus of Central Connecticut Statue University (CCSU). Free shows are offered to the public at 8 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of each month (except when they fall on the Christmas and New Year’s holidays), and the public is invited up to the roof to view the night sky through telescopes on weather-appropriate evenings.

GPS Address: between 245 and 175 Paul Manafort Drive, New Britain, 860-832-2950,
web.ccsu.edu/astronomy/ 

GLASTONBURY PLANETARIUM

Located at the Glastonbury-East Hartford Elementary Magnet School, this planetarium seats 70 beneath a 40-foot dome. Matinee shows are tailored for the children ages 7 and under, while evening shows are best for ages 8 and up. The venue also hosts the Cosmic Concert Music Series, which takes full advantage of the planetarium’s 5.1 surround sound system.

95 Oak St., Glastonbury, 860-652-7925, 
glastonburyplanetarium.org

HENRY B. DUPONT III PLANETARIUM 

Bridgeport’s innovative Discovery Museum is home to this planetarium, which presents a mix of four different shows offering digital and live presentations on the mysteries and beauty of space. Some shows are specifically suited to the very young, while others are ideal for older children and adults. 

4450 Park Ave., Bridgeport, 203-372-3521, 
discoverymuseum.org/visit/henry-b-dupont-iii-planetarium/ 

LOITER FAMILY OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM

Situated on the campus of Yale University, this facility is part of the school’s Department of Astronomy and offers shows for the public on Tuesday and Sunday nights. If the weather cooperates on Tuesday nights, the shows are followed by an invitation to use the observatory’s telescopes for a peek into the deepest corner of the night skies. 

355 Prospect St., New Haven, 203-432-3000, 
onhsa.yale.edu/programs/leitner-family-observatory-and-planetarium-0 

ROBERT K. WICKWARE PLANETARIUM

Based at Eastern Connecticut State University (ESCU), this planetarium is primarily used by the school’s astronomy students and only offers a limited number of shows for school and scout groups. However, public star shows are held three or four times per semester, with post-show telescope viewings after the presentations. The venue also offers offices and community groups the opportunity to book their own private shows for free, with an appreciative request for a “small donation” to the Eastern Science Club.

83 Windham St., Willimantic, 860-465-4317, 
easternct.edu/physicalscience/planetarium/

STAMFORD OBSERVATORY & PLANETARIUM 

Based in the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, the observatory is used as a research facility by the Fairfield County Astronomical Society, and the public is invited on Friday nights to view the skies through their 22-inch research telescope. The planetarium is available for school programs, scout groups, special events and private parties, but it does not host shows designed for the general public. 

39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford 203-977-6521, 
stamfordmuseum.org/planet-ed.html 

TRAVELERS SCIENCE DOME AT THE GENGRAS PLANETARIUM 

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, this venue at the Children’s Museum of Connecticut seats up to 145 people and features a digital projector that places its stellar imagery on a 40-foot dome. The planetarium presents a diverse lineup of presentations ideal for children from first through eighth grades.

950 Trout Brook Drive, West Hartford, 860-231-2824, 
thechildrensmuseumct.org/planetarium/ 

TREWORGY PLANETARIUM

Based in Mystic Seaport, this planetarium celebrates the historic role that astronomy played in navigation and the golden eras of exploration and transoceanic travel. The planetarium also hosts special classes that enables today’s GPS-reliant crowd to master the art of celestial navigation.

75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, 860-572-0711, 
mysticseaport.org/explore/planetarium 

WESTSIDE OBSERVATORY AND PLANETARIUM

Located atop a 5-acre hill on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University (WCSU), the observatory’s telescope is used for astrophysical research by undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. The planetarium is a 40-seat venue that is primarily used for presenting science programs to school and scout groups, but the public is welcome to view the stars and planets at scheduled nights during the spring and fall terms.

43 Lake Ave. Extension, Danbury, 203-837-8672, 
wcsu.edu/graduate/eps/obsws.asp

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