W.J. McCallion Planetarium


Department of Physics & Astronomy > W.J. McCallion Planetarium
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Banner and navigation constellation images from the open source planetarium software, Stellarium:


Previous Shows

The shows below are available on request for private group bookings. Each show is designed by a different presenter, so please keep in mind that availability will be more restricted (unlike with a general private show, by selecting a specific topic you are also specifying the presenter). For reservations, email planetarium@physics.mcmaster.ca or call (905) 525-9140 ext. 27777.
Stories of the Sky
View the constellations in a broader historical context, with a planetarium show that combines cultural interpretations about the stars in the sky. This show will cover Asian folklore associated with the Milky Way, called Tanabata; a variety of Greek mythologies describing constellations in the Western sky; and, an Indigenous perspective about the Celestial Bear, also known as the Big Dipper.
Living in Space: A beginners guide to colonizing the stars
Join us on an exciting trip into the challenges of space colonization as we explore some familiar and some rather surprising options for the future of humanity in the cosmos! We'll delve deep into what a burgeoning new settlement will require to succeed as well as the dangers that any aspiring colonist will have to face!
James Webb Space Telescope: Acrobat, Time Machine, Spying Glass
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is poised to be the next great leap in space-based observational astronomy. In 2019 it will launch to a height of 1.5 million kilometers above Earth where it will have to unfurl its tennis court sized heat shield and 2.5 story tall mirror, all without any help from people. Not only will it be an incredible deep space acrobat but JWST will revolutionize the detail of our view of the cosmos and in turn our understanding of the universe. Join us as we follow JWST from its launch through many of the contributions to scientific discovery it has in store. We will touch on how JWST will peer back through time to watch the first stars and galaxies being born, pull back the veil of space dust to spy on the formation of stars and planetary systems, and glimpse the faint signatures of atmospheres and possibly the building blocks of life on planets in other star systems.
Ripples in the Fabric of the Universe
In February, 2016, the experimental detection of gravitational waves was announced, changing the world of observational astronomy forever. This awe-inspiring experiment detected ripples in spacetime itself, allowing us to observe massive objects in space by not only seeing the light that they emit or reflect, but also by detecting the gravitational energy that they produce. Now, we are entering a new era of astronomy where we are able to detect massive catastrophes in space, such as colliding black holes and neutron stars. But what exactly are black holes and neutron stars? How did we manage to detect these fantastic objects? And what even is a "ripple" in "spacetime"? We will answer all of these questions and more, which will hopefully leave you feeling both enlightened and craving to learn even more.
Death from the Skies!
Asteroids and supernovae and black holes - oh my! In this show, we'll be covering the myriad of ways in which the Universe is trying to kill us all. But don't panic! In addition to touring some of the most violent places in the Universe, you'll discover just how likely (or unlikely) these cosmic catastrophes really are. Bring your favorite astronomical conspiracy theory or apocalyptic prediction and we'll discuss what the observations really say. Tinfoil hat not required!
New Solar System Discoveries
Did you know new celestial objects are discovered beyond Neptune's orbit nearly every month? Some of which are nearly the size of Pluto? Did you know Earth has a 2nd Moon? Have you heard the latest on the search for the elusive "Planet Nine?" Is there really a planet called Niribu in our solar system that will soon impact the Earth? In this show, we take a journey through recent history and show the latest Solar System discoveries. We also reveal which alleged objects in our solar system cannot actually be there. The solar system remains vastly uncharted, but the observations we've done so far help us better constrain what is left to find
Space Explosions
An old and massive star reaches the end of its life but it is not going to go quietly. It collapses into itself and explodes in a tremendous show of light and energy to outshine entire galaxies for one brief moment before its light is forever extinguished. A supermassive black hole, millions of times larger than the sun lurks as the center of a faraway galaxy. It draws in material from its surroundings to form a magnificent glowing disk of light which ejects a great pillar of high energy particles out into the universe. Solar flares, x-ray bursters, novas and more. Come to the planetarium and learn how these destructive events can happen and what is left behind.
Carl Sagan's Universe
"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be," proclaims Carl Sagan in the opening of his landmark television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Sagan, who during his life made many important contributions to the scientific understanding of our Solar System, was best known for his extraordinary ability to convey the significance and wonder of science to general audiences. We will voyage through the Solar System and the Universe beyond while drawing inspiration from writings of Dr. Sagan along the way. Carl Sagan once famously stated: "We're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." Join your fellow sentient collections of star-stuff and learn about the Universe from which we came.
Introductory Astronomy for Kids - Galaxies
Join us at the planetarium for a show especially geared toward younger audiences (8-15 years old) and their family members. You've seen the Sun and the Moon, the planets, and the Hamilton night sky, but what's beyond the Solar System? In this show, we'll journey through the Milky Way and discuss our Solar System's place in the Galaxy and our Galaxy's place in the Universe. How long will it take to get to the nearest stars and to visit other worlds? What's in the centre of the Galaxy? How does our Galaxy compare to others? We'll answer all of these questions and more!
Rust and Stardust
Have you ever looked up at the starry sky and felt small and insignificant compared to the vastness of the cosmos? What you will learn in this show is that you are actually made of the exact same material as these sparky dots up there. Stars produce the elements that compose everything you see -- yourselves included -- while they are born, live and die in the cosmic ocean. Visit the McCallion Planetarium this year and find out that you are literally made of stardust!
Some of the greatest discoveries in science and astronomy happened purely by accident. From planets and moons in our own solar system, to cosmic lighthouses in the Milky Way, and even to the most distant objects in our Universe. In this show, with the aid of the planetarium, we will explore some of the most profound serendipitous discoveries in astronomy.
Star Wars: The Science Awakens
Is it possible to create a lightsaber? Is the Millennium Falcon really "the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy"? How much energy would the Death Star require to destroy Earth? Can planets like Tatooine and Hoth exist in our Universe? How close are humans from creating robots like R2-D2 and C-3PO? Could the Force ever be a reality? Prepare yourself for a memorable Star Wars experience in a planetarium not far away from you. Visit McCallion Planetarium this year and May the Force be with you!
The Celestial Bear: The Six Nations' Night Sky
"That is how I heard the story, so I thought that is how you would hear it as well..." Join us for a fascinating show that blends local culture, history and modern-day astronomy that shares the Six Nations' sky lore and language through traditional indigenous night-sky stories. With narration and visuals by a live presentation and pre-recorded excerpts (in English, Mohawk and Cayuga), learn about the story of the bear and the brothers and how it is retold every year with the rotating patterns in the night sky. See the same stars with a completely different understanding and appreciation!his show was collaboratively-produced by members of the Six Nations, McMaster's Indigenous Studies Program, and the McCallion Planetarium.