Stargazing returns to El Paso ISD’s Roddenberry Planetarium

roddenberry planetarium

Photo by Martín A. López – El Paso ISD

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso ISD’s ‘trek’ to the stars was relaunched earlier this week with the inaugural show at the new Gene Roddenberry Planetarium in Northeast El Paso.

The planetarium launched their ‘next generation’ show on Wednesday, continuing the voyage the original 52-year-old dome with new high-tech features and updated programming.

Sixth graders from Don Haskins PK-8 School were the first students to see the new planetarium, which now resides at the former Crosby Elementary multipurpose center in Northeast El Paso.

The new location replaces the original planetarium, inside the EPISD Education Center on Boeing Drive, which was built in 1969. 

Almost as excited as the students was educator and director of special projects Tim Holt, who put together the planetarium’s first lesson.

“This is the best classroom in the district…planetarium is an informal science place that gets away from the traditional classroom. The nearest one is in Alamogordo. Kids would actually have to travel out of town to get this same experience.” 

Tim Holt, director of special projects

The Haskins sixth graders that visited this week got a glimpse into the night’s sky and a lesson on astronomy in a life-like replica of El Paso’s sky projected onto the 360-degree dome.

The program wrapped up with a video about telescopes, their origins and their importance in the discovery of planets.

Sixth grader Santiago Torres, said it was an experience, saying he mostly enjoyed the star talk portion of the program.

“I really liked the stars and looking at the planet, and when he was telling story about Pegasus,” Santiago said. “It’s really cool. The chairs were comfy, too.”

For sixth grader Davna Rosenfield, the dome’s stars and planet also were the most impressive.

“I thought it was so cool.  Especially the roof. I loved how it showed the stars and the planets.”

Davna added that she remembered previous trips to the original planetarium when she was younger, but found this visit to be far more fun.

“I think we’re lucky we got to come here,” she said. “I thought it was cool to learn about the constellations and see how the telescope worked. I really liked it a lot. I had fun.”

EPISD officials say the new planetarium, which was partially funded through a City of El Paso Community Development Block Grant, will return to providing public shows and field trip opportunities for other school districts in the not too distant future.

roddenberry planetarium lobby
Photo by Martín A. López – El Paso ISD

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