Hylton Planetarium

While the Hylton Planetarium isn’t my typical Friday non-profit/charity, they do only operate based on community involvement and attendance.  New shows run between $10,000 and $20,000 a pop, and that money comes from groups coming in.  We had an awesome time, so I’m sharing today 🙂 If you have a child who attends PWCS, they’ll benefit from the awesome planetarium at some point, too! 

We had the chance to take a field trip to the Irene V.Hylton Planetarium at Hylton High School this past week, and it was so much
fun!
As part of our memory work curriculum, we are learning
astronomy facts this year.  My kids have
memorized the parts of the sun, the planets, types of stars, phases of the
moon, types of other objects in our solar system, and the names of US space
missions.  Our group decided to do the
Planetarium as our culminating trip, although I know another group did it as
their introduction. 
The planetarium offers several different programs that
homeschool groups, moms groups, retirement communities, girl scout/boy scout
troops, or just a bunch of people who are super into astronomy can choose
from.  We selected a program for grades
3-7 called “Earth, Moon, Sun”, which could have probably included a little more
technical information for our group of kids, but they absolutely loved
everything about it, especially the coyote “scientist” who kept blundering
things up.  They spent a lot of time
laughing and definitely liked the presentation of the material in such a 360
format.  I enjoyed the fact that they
wove in some mythology and talked about how much our understanding has changed
over the years.  I thought it was very
well done.
Other programs are available for various age groups.  When you email the director, Anthony Kilgore,
to set up your program, he can help you select for your group. 
As for details, you’ll need a minimum of 30 people, and the
facility can accommodate a maximum of 60. 
Shows are $10 per person, and for groups they ask that you give one cash
payment or write one check.
The show was really fun. 
The program isn’t anything like I remember- when I was little and you
went to the planetarium, there was a giant “ball” that projected stars onto the
ceiling and then the attendant would point things out with a red laser
pointer.  Now, the presentations are more
like movies projected on a dome, but they’re still very cool and the kids like
the presentation of the material in such a fun format.
At the end of our program, the director Mr. Kilgore, who is
fun and engaging with students, took our extra time to show us one song from
his current holiday laser program which was amazing.  First, he explained to us that there are only
three lasers in the planetarium, a red, a green, and a blue.  However, using a complex series of mirrors,
he’s able to turn those three lasers into an incredible show of light
coordinated to music.  The kids were in
absolute awe, and I thought they  might
absolutely lose their minds when at the end of the song it started “snowing” in
the planetarium. 
If you’d like to catch a laser show, there are public
performances each week during December:
Friday, December 6th/13th/20th
2013
6:00pm – Laser Holidays
7:30pm – Star of Bethlehem
9:00pm – Laser Holidays

You can purchase tickets at the planetarium Monday-Friday 7:30am-4pm, or
in person if there are seats left the night of the show.  Bring $10 per person, exact change, and be
sure to arrive 10 minutes prior to showtime and use the restroom before you go
in!
Once the doors lock, you can’t get in, although you can leave- but that
means if you walk out to use the restroom, you’re not going to see the rest of
the show, so prepare accordingly!
We really enjoyed our field trip, and it would be an awesome way to earn
an astronomy badge, or to enjoy a fun trip for any group (did I mention that we
took a group of kids to the planetarium for my oldest son’s 7th
birthday? We did.  And we schlepped all
the way to the David Brown Planetarium in Arlington(!) and it wasn’t nearly as
nice as Hylton’s, which is right in our backyard.  I don’t remember what made us have to go to
Brown, I think Hylton was already booked the night we needed to do his birthday
party, but just for comparison’s sake, Hylton has a nicer interior and
equipment, as far as I can tell!

For more information about the Hylton Planetarium, or to book your group
or event, please contact Director Anthony Kilgore, via email or at
703-580-4000. 



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Someone pointed out that I forgot my funny disclaimer!! My bad!!  I was not compensated or remunerated in any way for this post.  I didn’t snag a discount for being awesome, either, although that’s never happened so I’m not sure why it would start now.  All opinions are my own based on our experience. Your experiences may vary, and PwcMoms is not responsible for your kids trying to turn your basement into a laser show, or the crick in your neck from looking up at the show for an hour.  Try stretching first.