On Friday night, my eight year-old son attended a free workshop at the Louisville Planetarium (officially Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium ) called "Using your Telescope," an event intended to teach folks--kids and grown-ups alike--how to use that cool, fancy piece of equipment that often sits unused. He loved it. He learned basics about positioning and when it's best to use the telescope so as to create more bang for his stargazing buck. After the workshop, he stayed for the Louisville Astonomical Society 's presentation of "Skies Over Louisville" and received a detailed map of just how the Northern Hemisphere's appears this month. Interesting stuff.
Luckily for Louisville families, the planetarium offers many public workshops and seminars aimed at varying age groups. The "Skies Over Louisville" program shows participants just where to look to find planets and helps all age groups learn to determine the best time of night or season to locate constellations or planets. There are new classes the second Friday of each month at 8:00 pm.
The Owsley Brown II Portable Planetarium is open February 10, March 10, and April 14 and features two family-friendly shows: National Geographic's "Wildest Weather in the Solar System" and "One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure." In the latter, Big Bird teaches your child about the Big Dipper, the North Star, the sun and the moon. Reservations aren't required, but they are recommended, so book tickets (children 12 and under are $6, adults are $8) here .
February 2 features a Girl Scout workshop titled "I Want to be an Astronaut" and the Girl Scout "SKY" workshop will be help February 9. More information about these events can be found here .
And if your little person is really out of this world, perhaps you should shoot the moon and book a birthday party at the planetarium. The basic package is $125 and includes admission for up to ten children, private party room for one hour, and the showstopper--your child gets to see his or her name written "in the sky" on the dome. There are other a la carte items to help customize your party, such as goodie bags and science activities. For more information, look here .
Planetarium summer camps will be announced in early spring, so check back for summer activities for school-age children.
The Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium  at the Univeristy of Louisville is located at 106 W. Brandeis Avenue. More information can be found at www.louisville.edu/planetarium  or by calling 502-852-6664.
Photo: courtesy of shutterstock.com/AZP Worldwide