Special topic presentations are 15–25 minute slide or video features presented in the planetarium before the night-sky show. A different topic will be presented in our public show each week. Most of these presentations are developed by UCLA Astronomy graduate students, and more are developed on a regular basis!
Current special topic presentations in our library include:
We’ll start at the Sun and take a tour through the Solar System. Along the way, we will see some of the most extraordinary landscapes ever imaged. Learn about the composition and features of the planets and many moons in our corner of the Galaxy.
Recommended Ages: Elementary School and Up
Galaxies are the largest objects in the Universe. In this set of shows, you’ll learn about the galaxy we call home, explore the vast assortment of galaxies which make up our Universe, and find out what happens when two galaxies collide!
Recommended Ages: Elementary School and Up
Black holes represent some of the most extreme environments in the Universe; places where even light can not escape! In this show, you’ll learn all about what makes a black hole tick, where they come from, and why a black hole has no hair!
When is a star not a star? Why, when it’s a brown dwarf, of course. Our galaxy is littered with these cool, dim objects which didn’t quite make it to becoming a full-fledged star. Learn about why astronomers study these bodies and what they can tell us about star formation.
A show where you get to choose what you want to learn!
This show follows NASA’s Curiosity rover from launch to perilous landing to early exploration of the Red Planet. We’ll discuss progress on the mission’s goals, including investigating past habitability, assessing current environmental conditions, and preparing for future human exploration of Mars. Curiosity (aka the Mars Science Laboratory) landed on Mars in August 2012 and continues to motor on today.
What happens when a star dies? From White Dwarfs to Pulsars to Black Holes, the end results of stellar lives are wondrous and varied. This show explores the reasons that stars die and highlights the dooms awaiting these celestial bodies.
In the past decade, we’ve catalogued more worlds orbiting other stars than there are in our own solar system. In this talk, we introduce the methods astronomers use to hunt down these elusive objects, explore the sometimes bizarre environments of these worlds, and muse on the possibility of finding another Earth.
Learn about some of the most extreme planets orbiting other stars outside of our solar system.
We all have, at some point or another, looked at the night sky. But, have you ever wondered what the sky would look like if you were in another world? Explore the skies from different planets of our solar system, and look at our own little blue ocean planet in the skies of other worlds.
Take a journey to the center of our Milky Way galaxy. See what the Milky Way looks like from Earth; learn how we observe the center of our galaxy; and keep zooming in until we can learn things about the supermassive black hole that resides at the Galactic Center.
A set of shows that consider one of the most intriguing questions: does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? These shows highlight some of the major scientific goals of Astrobiology. We explore the history of our search for other life forms, how we might locate life on other worlds, and the possibility of communication with extraterrestrial intelligences.
How far away is the moon? What causes the phases of the moon? What causes the seasons? Why is the sky blue? Is a black hole really dangerous? Come and learn these and other interesting facts about astronomy!
Explore some of the most extreme and interesting objects in our universe: neutron stars and pulsars! What are these strange objects? How do they form? And what can they teach us about the universe?
The New Horizons spacecraft was created to explore Pluto and the outer regions of our Solar System. This show features the incredible pictures of Pluto taken by New Horizons and the new information that has come from this mission, which has raised interesting questions about the nature of Pluto and the farthest regions of the Solar System.
Come learn about what makes some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring very interesting to scientists!
Pluto used to be considered a planet. Now it isn’t. What happened? Hear the story of Pluto’s demotion while learning about one of the most distant objects in our solar system.