Looking for something educational and fun to do while in Fresno?
The Downing Planetarium at Fresno State University is a great place to learn more about the night sky and about our universe.
Planetarium shows are offered one weekend each month – usually on Friday nights and Saturday evenings.
The price is affordable:
Students (with ID) and children 3-12 $3
Shows last about an hour, concluding with a short lesson about sights that can currently be seen in the night sky, presented by Dr. Steve White. At the time of our visit, five planets were visible just before dawn and Dr. White showed us how to identify them using the planetarium’s simulated night sky.
Plan on arriving at fifteen to twenty minutes before the show starts in order to have time to pick up your tickets.
Planetarium shows require near-total darkness, so late arrivals cannot be admitted into the planetarium. The night sky was cloudy during our visit, but on clear nights there are often telescopes set up outside the planetarium with volunteers who can point out some of the highlights of the night sky.
It’s best to reserve your tickets in advance through the website – shows often sell out in advance.
Special programs can be arranged for large groups, including schools. The planetarium offers a wide range of programs for all ages. A small gift shop sells unique science-themed gifts and posters.
For more information and to reserve tickets, go to https://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/downing-planetarium/
or call (559) 278-4071.
The planetarium is located at 5320 N. Maple Ave. on the Fresno State Campus. This section of Maple is not a through street. You can find it by turning south off of Barstow Ave. We found it by looking for the sign for parking lot P15 as we drove down Barstow.
Parking is free in P15 for Friday night and Saturday afternoon planetarium shows. If there is an event going on at the Save Mart Center, avoid Chestnut Ave. The traffic pattern on Chestnut forced us into the parking lot for the Save Mart Center on the night of our visit and we had to ask the parking attendants for assistance to get back out.
To download a map of the campus, go to http://www.fresnostate.edu/cge/aei/contact/.
Other fun and educational places you might want to check out while in Fresno include: