Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost?

Shows are currently free. We've investigated charging a ticket price for some of the shows, and we just don't think the benefit of doing so is worth it. This may change in the future as attendance and requests for private shows increase.

How many seats are there?

We can fit 80 people.

Should we book a private show, or just bring our group to a public show?

Attendance varies by quite a bit. If your group is larger than 10 people on a Saturday, or 20 people on a Wednesday, then we suggest you contact us for a private show. If your group comes to a public show, we reccomend coming at least 15 minutes early if you want to sit together.

Do you do events for the public like birthdays and weddings?

We do. We would book a birthday like a regular private show, and add in something about what the sky was like on the birth date. Any food like cake, however, needs to be procured through our catering service. For weddings there would be a fee, and it would need to be coordinated with Lane Center. Please contact us to discuss your event.

My child/grandchild is of a certain age. Should I bring them to a show?

Depends on the age and the interest of the child. The Wednesday Sky Tours are more technical and geared towards audiences of middle school age and older, but if your child is younger, and enjoys things like documentaries, the Wednesday Sky Tours might keep their attention. The Science Saturday shows are often more friendly for younger audiences. Check out the Full Dome Movies page for minimum age reccomendations for the movie planned on a Science Saturday. We post the upcoming movies on our homepage, and in the Public Show Schedule.

How do I book a private show?

Contact us. Note that we prefer email. You can try calling, but we are much quicker to respond via email. We will only try returning your call a couple of times within a couple of days until we give up.

How long do shows last?

Shows last between 30 and 45 minutes. Our target time for Wednesday Sky tours is 35 minutes, Our target time for Science Saturdays is 40 minutes. Times vary between shows by about +/- 5 minutes.

Where is the best place to park?

Please see the Directions and Parking page.

What services do you provide for persons with special needs?

We provide a variety of services. The theater is handicap accessible, and we can fit up to 4 wheel chairs comfortably (but we can squeez in 6). The back row of seats is reserved for persons with special needs. Assistants are avilable to help you get seated. We also provide hearing assistance devices, and can make arrangements for an interpreter. If you need an intrepreter, please contact us a couple of weeks oin advance.

What movies do you show for private shows?

You can choose from any of our full dome movies. The decision doesn't have to made in advance, and can be doen when you arrive.

I'm concerned about show content. How do I determine if a show is appropriate for my children?

We're more than happy to discuss any concerns you might have. Please contact us with a phone number to reach you at.

What goes on at the shows?

Please see the Planetarium Shows page.

Will there be telescopes?

If the weather is nice enough after a public show, we usually bring out telescopes. In general, to be nice enough, the wind must be below 10 mph, the sky must be mostly clear, and it must be above freezing. There are exceptions to these criteria that depend on the specific circumstances. For a private show, it is possible to arrange for telescopes afterwards.

What is a star party?

Star parties are events where we collaborate with the Cumberland Astronomy Club to have telescopes setup at a dark location for public use. We'll post info about upcoming star parties when they are scheduled on our events page. We try to do at least one a year.

I want to buy a telescope. What do you reccomend?

Unless you are wanting to spend over $1,000 on a telescope, mount, and eyepieces, we strongly advise against the allure of a go-to telescope. These do not work as easily as advertised unless you want to spend that kind of money, and even then, it takes a lot of practice to get one to work well. For a beginner we reccomend a dobsonian mounted newtonian reflecter and some kind of laser finder and star chart. Ian Ridpath's the, "Stars and Planets." is one of our favorite star charts. You will be up and running with a dobsonian and a star chart way before you get your < $1,000 go-to telescope to work. Also, keep in mind that you will want to invest a few hundred dollars in 2 or three decent quality eyepieces.

There is a lot to learn in planning this kind of purchase. We recommend seeking out the advice of the Cumberland Astronomy Club. They are a great resource for this sort of information.

Contact Us

Dr. Jason Speights

Director of the MLC
Assistant Professor of Physics

Email: jcspeights@frostburg.edu (preferred)
Phone: 301.687.4339
Office: Gira CCIT 189

Send Mail To

Department of Physics and Engineering
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303

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