Home  :  News and Events  :  News Details  

Planetarium, Theatre Celebrate 30 Years with Events

Public also invited to share memories of special visits to both venues

Friday, September 08, 2017

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium and the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre at Parkland College will celebrate their 30th anniversary this fall with events and opportunities for community input.

Originally known as the “Cultural Center,” the planetarium/theatre complex is located on the west side of campus. The complex was a dream of Parkland’s first president, Dr. William M. Staerkel, which came to fruition in fall 1987. 

Memory Sharing

First, the planetarium and theatre are asking the community to share memories of past visits or special trips to either venue. Events can include favorite shows or concerts, weddings and wedding proposals, birthdays, and more. Residents can share their memories with Staerkel Planetarium and Theatre staff by posting them on their appropriate Facebook pages, sending an email either to planetarium@parkland.edu or theatre@parkland.edu, or sending a card or letter to either venue at 2400 W. Bradley Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821. 

Planetarium Celebrations

As for Staerkel Planetarium events, the staff will bring back the first program ever shown on its 50-foot dome in October 1987, Odyssey. Originally written by Jim Manning, the planetarium’s first director, the show has been updated and adapted to fulldome digital format by production designer Waylena McCully. Odyssey opens Oct. 6 and will show Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through the month.

Odyssey takes audiences on a personal voyage of discovery through the cosmos, from the legends and monuments of early sky watchers to an imaginary flight through the solar system and our home galaxy and into the depths of space and time. Tickets are $6 adults and $5 for students, seniors and kids, available at the door.  

Then on Oct. 7, the planetarium will hold a birthday party for its Carl Zeiss star machine, which kids lovingly call “Carl.” The open house will occur from 2 to 5 p.m.; the public is invited to stop in for birthday cake while supplies last, sign a card for Carl or bring their own, and have their photos taken with the iconic machine. Planetarium Director Dave Leake will be on hand to give visitors an up-close tour of Carl’s features.

“When the digital revolution came to Staerkel in 2010, Carl wasn’t used as much as he used to be, but he still commands attention in the center of the room and people ask me how he is doing all the time!” Leake said.

Theatre Celebrations

The Harold and Jean Miner Theatre will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a lobby display featuring information dating back to the opening of the building.

The theatre will also bring back “talk-backs” for each of its productions this season. Talk-backs provide audience members with an opportunity to dive further into theatre productions and chat face-to-face with directors, designers and cast members.

Lastly, the theatre is introducing season tickets this fall, which include a 15-percent discount and a free concession.

Full schedules of planetarium and theatre shows are available at http://www.parkland.edu/planetarium and http://theatre.parkland.edu, respectively.


© Parkland College
2400 West Bradley Ave | Champaign, IL 61821 | 217.351.2200 | 888.467.6065
The Mission of Parkland College is to engage the community in learning.