Fly the night sky at Central’s renovated Buehler Planetarium

Thandie Brown 

South Bureau Chief

Central Campus holds many gems – from Bailey Hall’s performing theater to its large fields for student engagement, a highlight of Central opens once more as the Buehler Planetarium is back again for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy.

In April, BC’s marketing department announced the finish of its newest round of renovations to grace Building 16. The announcement says the planetarium, now able to hold 100 people in the lobby, was out of commission for about 30 months, so take advantage of the open, “Sky Theater,” this Fall.

Professor Susan Barnett, instructor of Introductory Astronomy and Director of the Planetarium, is never seen without flair. When she isn’t teaching Astronomy or hosting shows at the Planetarium, she is found every Wednesday night at the Observatory. From 7-10 p.m., you can see people from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade County on the school’s mini patio looking out at the night sky. Here, anyone can look at the obvious and the harder-to-find objects that rotate throughout our solar system.

There’s a treat in attending weekly because those same objects – stars, planets and cosmic particles – are in depth and in A.C. once a month at the Planetarium. Every 2nd Wednesday, visitors have a chance to wait in a new lobby, sit in new chairs and experience the very same night sky in a new way.

I had the chance to watch our Patriot Day, “The Season of Saturn,” show in September. Where our Planetarium once had eight separate projectors, the 2008 reno shrunk that number down to two, 4K projectors. Each positioned for half of Planetarium’s dome, Dr. Barnett shows her audience the beauty of the sky with live-time screenings of the objects we see from Earth.

A new experience is the ability to leave the Earth and as Dr. Barnett says, “fly the Universe.” Already able to see more stars in the Planetarium than at the Observatory, this show means that one of the oldest buildings on Central Campus has some of the most futuristic technologies available to the public.

Because it applies to more than astronomy, Barnett says, “it is an amazing resource for the state college to have, and a state college is an amazing resource for the community to have.”

Able to book private shows for audiences of all backgrounds, Dr. Barnett says, “a proposal was staged here, once,” and more so, the opportunity to visit the planetarium is but a scheduling away. Anyone can request groups as small as they’d like, but there is a minimum fee, and for groups of 40 or more, the price is per person. For other kinds of visits, classes are free, public shows are $10 and student discounts for those are $8.

The freedom of having this feature on campus is that its multifaceted for all kinds of engagement. From professors able to teach concepts that include S.T.E.A.M. curriculums, to schoolchildren experiencing their first flight throughout the Universe, it is a bonus to students, staff, and faculty all over Broward College.

The hour-long shows leave time for visitors of the Planetarium to head across the path and right into the Observatory to test out their newfound knowledge of the sky. With Earth moving at 1,000 mph, watching those same solar bodies comes with the thrill of having about 10-15 seconds to enjoy your view of Saturn, Jupiter and our very own Moon.

For more information follow the Broward College Buehler Planetarium’s Facebook page, email Dr. Barnett at or stop by the Observatory for a mid-week gaze at the ‘stars’.

In the meantime, be on the lookout for October’s show as with the end of summer’s season means there is a different sky to experience with more than Saturn in its midst.
Photo:  The nightime glow of Building 16’s newly renovated Buehler Planetarium. Thandie Brown/The Observer

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