Planetarium programs reach students and teachers (formal education) and the general public through school, science center, and museum planetaria (informal education). Kepler EPO has produced an audience participation planetarium show and some planetarium show producers have produced shows that feature the NASA Kepler mission in various ways.
- Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun at the Boston Museum of Science, offered as public show and school program. This show has an accompanying educators' guide. A preview of the show can be seen at a distributor's website: Sky-Skan. The part about Kepler is a couple of minutes long, about 25 minutes in (about 7 minutes from the end).
Update Oct 2012: Undiscovered Worlds was selected by the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards as winner in the category "Best Theatrical Program." The Jackson Hole Science Media Awards recognize the best media being produced about science in the world, and showcase extremely important works across a huge variety of scientific disciplines. Undiscovered Worlds reminds us, "the Universe is incredibly old and large, and humans have been around for a very short time. However, during that time, we have made extraordinary discoveries, and there are many more to come."
- A Planet for Goldilocks--The search for a world that is “just right”--a planetarium show from Goto Inc. We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A little girl was looking for something to eat and a place to rest, when she wandered into an environment that – after a few experiments – had everything necessary to be “just right”… at least until the bears came home! This planetarium show is about humankind’s search for a planet with conditions which would be “just right” in A Planet for Goldilocks. In 1995, astronomers detected 51 Pegasi, the first exoplanet – a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. Since that time the search for a planet like Earth, one with temperatures, oceans, and an atmosphere like ours has been a little like Goldilock’s search for a decent bowl of porridge: some are too hot, some are too cold, but some are “just right.” It features the techniques astronomers use to find the tiny, dark worlds in orbit around distant stars: the Doppler shift method and the transit method. The amazing NASA Kepler mission results have already given us more than more than two thousand exoplanet candidates, some of which are in the Goldilocks Zone. As we continue to search wider fields of view and add exploration tools like the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, we will undoubtedly find thousands more. See: http://www.goldilocks-zone.com/english.
- Extreme Planets by Clark Planetarium Productions is a 31 minute fulldome show about exoplanets, planet-finding, and concludes with a discussion of the Kepler mission.
- Strange Planets is the show produced by the Kepler mission EPO through the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) Planetarium and is part of a series of shows called Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS) optimized for group sizes of 25 to 70 people that engage the visitors directly in activities and demonstrations. Show content includes general planet-finding techniques (Doppler, astrometric, etc.), an audience activity about the transit method of extrasolar planet discovery, NASA Kepler mission, and Johannes Kepler's work.
The content of the program supports the National Science Education Standards (NSES), especially those related to “Earth and Space Science,” “History and Nature of Science,” and “Science and Technology.” PASS is now distributed as Interact! PASS Classic by Sky-Skan Inc. As of January 2010, the show was distributed to about 65 planetariums. Materials developed for the program are available for video products, broadcast type science programs, and other planetaria that produce their own programs on the search for extrasolar planets for special emphasis on Kepler. The show script and media (still images, movies, animations, music) are available for free at the Strange Planets download page.
Development of the Strange Planets show was in collaboration with planetarium staff at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA. Kepler team members conducted workshops at planetarium conferences to get a variety of planetarium staff input to define the program and best suit the needs of the planetarium community.
Program information is also shared via papers and sessions at regional planetarium meetings and at the International Planetarium Society (IPS) meeting.
See also the March 2009 issue of the IPS journal The Planetarian that has the article Share the Hunt for Other Earths (PDF, 705 KB) (700Kb PDF) about Kepler and the Strange Planets planetarium show, by Gould, Komatsu, DeVore, Koch, and Harman.
A demonstration of the Kepler LEGO Orrery by Ruth Craft of Kennedy High School planetarium can be seen on a PBS TV program called Outdoor Elements (segment #3 of "Far Out! Telescopes"—Episode #1003— http://www.wnit.org/outdoorelements/1000/1003/1003.html.
Expect show revisions in 2010-2012, reflecting the discoveries made by the Kepler team during the first 4 years of observations with particular attention to the discovery of how many terrestrial-sized planets in habitable zones exist elsewhere in the universe.
The planetarium programs can go with the NSF-funded Alien Earths exhibit developed by SSI.
The video products seen on the Kepler website Media area benefits the general public and families, schools/colleges, and broadcast television.
Evaluation: Front-end, formative, and summative evaluation for planetarium programs and broadcast video are coordinated by LHS Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) team with cooperation from the partner institutions.