The Morgan Jones Planetarium was opened in 1968. Since that time, the planetarium has seen over 700,000 people attending for planetarium shows, meetings, birthday parties, special shows, musical presentations, and weddings. It has provided over 613,000 people-hours of service. We have seen school groups from as far away as Lubbock and Houston. There have been 5 planetarium teachers since 1968. The planetarium has presented materials to students from pre-kindergarten to high school, college astronomy lessons, and adult education, as well as public shows for general audiences.
There have been 3 projection devices used during the time the planetarium has been opened. In the beginning the planetarium had a star ball that had an aluminum ball with pinholes through which light was projected. In 2004, the planetarium was upgraded to a 1K digital projection unit that had the capability to display shows, video, images and scenes. The planetarium also had materials created by students shown on the dome. In 2019, the planetarium was upgraded to a 2K laser projection unit with the capability of going to individual campuses with a portable dome. This new machine has much easier capabilities for students to produce and show their own materials on the dome.
Currently, the planetarium has over 30 pre-made shows for use in lessons and makes lessons for students that are aligned to the TEKS and other state and national standards. The planetarium has pre-designed curriculum, as well as the ability to make customized lessons to meet teachers’ needs. When students attend the planetarium as part of their curriculum, teachers may choose to have a lecture room experience where students see demonstrations and learn core information. They also have a dome room experience where they get to see constellations and learn about astronomical information, as well as physics, chemistry, and biology. With our new machine, we will have the ability to present geological information on the Earth, Moon, and Mars, and we will have the ability to present graphical information from NOAA and other scientific sources about geology, oceanography, and weather related materials.