The Astronomy Cafe


The Astronomy Cafe  is a brand new planetarium event!  Once a month,attend an informal discussion about a different astronomical topic.  Each presentation includes aquestion/answer period and a night sky tour.  Admission by donation. (Suggested $5-7)

New Horizons spacecraft

Tuesday, August 11,  2015    7:00 p.m.

The New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto in July 2015.   What did New Horizons see?  What have we learned about the Pluto system?  What scientific equipment did New Horizons employ to study these outer worlds?   We venture out to the edge of the planet system to take a closer look at Pluto. 

 Lunar Eclipse

Monday, September 14, 2015  7:00 p.m.

We're preparing for the total lunar eclipse on the night of Septgember 27/28th.  What causes such eclipses?  What will we see on the night of the 27th?   How are the lunar eclipses related to solar eclipses?   We discuss the geometry of lunar eclipses and how to read lunar eclipse charts.


Monday, October 12, 2015  7:00 p.m.

With a population in the hundreds of trillions, stars abound in the cosmos. Not only do they adorn the night sky, they also generate the elements necessary for life's formation.   How do they differ?  What determines a star's life cycle?  How have astronomers managed to amass such an extensive knowledge about them?   October's astronomy cafe explores the stars. 

Solar system
Monday, November 9, 2015   7:00 p.m.

In the lifetimes of many of us, what we know about our Solar System has undergone a remarkable transformation. Thanks to the flights of robotic spacecraft, what was once believed about the planets has turned into myth, while many mysteries have been resolved, and new ones generated. Irwin Gratz invites you to renew this voyage of discovery and wonder. He'll give you a glimpse into what was known about our Solar System as late as the early 1960s, before the likes of Mariner, Pioneer, Voyager, Venera, and others revealed the worlds around us to be more complex than imagined, and, in some ways, eerily familiar.
Star of Bethlehem

Monday, December 14, 2015      7:00 p.m.
The "Star of Bethlehem" has intrigued astronomers for centuries.  If the star were a naturally occurring event, what could it have been?  A supernova?  A planetary conjunction? A comet?  Or, something else entirely.   As we celebrate the holiday season, we discuss the astronomy of the Christmas star.

Winter Sky

Monday, January 11, 2016    7:00 p.m.
Twice a year (January and July), the Astronomy Cafe offers attendees a thorough night sky tour.  Tonight, sit back in our star dome theatre and enjoy an guided tour through the winter night sky.  See the Winter Hexagon, Orion the Hunter, the Milky Way, the sparkling star, Sirius, and much more.

Aurora in Sweden

Monday, February 8, 2016        7:00 p.m.

The sublimely beautiful Aurora Borealis ("Northern Lights.")  Though we associate these lights with winter, we can see them anytime of year.    What causes the aurora?  Is there a best of time of night to look for it?   Discover the science behind a spectacle than only five percent of the world's population has observed. 

Transit of Venus

Monday, March 14, 2016     7:00 p.m.

Tonight's Astronomy Cafe discusses the 18th century expeditions launched to observe the transits of Venus (1761 and 1769) from different regions around the world.  These observations enabled humans to approximate the Sun's distance from Earth in terms of miles,not just astronomical units.   How did the transit of Venus yield this information? This cafe delves into the history and mathematics of the Venusian transits and their relation to the Earth-Sun distance determination.

Earth's location in the Universe
Monday, April 11, 2016  7:00 p.m.

We once thought Earth occupied the center of the known Universe.  Now, we realize that our planet is merely the third world in a solar system dominated by the Sun.  This Sun is but one of billions of stars within a barred spiral galaxy. This galaxy, in turn, is one amongst a few dozen galaxies with the Local Cluster.  That cluster comprises a minute part of the Virgo Supercluster that, itself, is only one component within the local superclusters that is reduced to a mote in the observable Universe.  How large is the cosmos entire?    How did we determine our place within it? 

Space Weather

Monday, May 9, 2016   7:00 p.m.
Meteor showers, solar flares, comets, asteroids, aurora, and the green flash are but the most notable types of "Space weather."   Space Weather encompasses all phenomena involving the interaction of Earth's atmosphere and outer space.  It also includes apparitions of solar system bodies.   May's Astronomy Cafe discusses the various aspects of space weather and how to observe the various events.    What causes meteors?  Could a solar flare incapacitate our infrastructure?  



Reservations not required.   Doors open half an hour before the presentation begins.  For more information, consult our, call 207-780-4249 or  or e-mail 



About Us

What can you do at the Southworth Planetarium?  See a showenroll in a classattend a lecture, buy fascinating science toys, explore our exhibit area, learn the night sky.

We are open throughout the week. Not only do we have public shows, but we offer private shows to school groups, scout troops, birthday parties, business organizations, and more.

Like the Universe, itself, the more you explore the planetarium, the more you'll discover!  

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