The University of Toledo Ritter Planetarium is reopening to the public to transport families through space and time to view the wonders of the universe.
The first program, “Firefall,” will be shown on the full dome every Friday at 8:30 p.m. from July 9 through Aug. 27.
The immersive show explores how impacts from comets and asteroids have shaped Earth’s history.
“We are really excited about the reopening because it means we get to share the wonders of the night sky with the Toledo community again,” said Dr. Michael Cushing, professor of physics and astronomy and director of UToledo Ritter Planetarium.
“Firefall” is about civilization’s beginnings in the hostile environment of space and how the ancient barrage continues today from harmless meteors — those brilliant streaks in the night sky — to mountain-sized boulders wandering perilously close to Earth.
Terrifying and majestic, these invaders from space are capable of utter destruction yet they have delivered life-giving water and most of the organic materials necessary for life.
Admission to the programs is $8 for adults and $6 for children, senior citizens and UToledo community members. All children younger than 4 are free. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to the show.
Alex Mak, associate director of Ritter Planetarium and an alumnus of UToledo, is retiring June 30.
“The re-opening is bittersweet,” Cushing said. “Alex has been the heart and soul of Ritter Planetarium for 30 years, and his never-ending enthusiasm for both educating and inspiring the public about astronomy and science will be missed.”
Heidi Kuchta, a UToledo alumna who received her bachelor’s degree in physics and geology and her master’s degree in an accelerated teaching program in the Judith Herb College of Education, will replace Mak as associate director.
Kuchta started working as an assistant at Ritter Planetarium seven years ago as a freshman and has endeavored to find creative ways to inspire and motivate children to engage with science.
“Heidi has been an indispensable member of our team for years, and we look forward to having her step into a leadership role,” Cushing said.
Visit Ritter Planetarium’s website for more information about “Firefall” and other upcoming programs.