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Photo of the planetarium


The Southwest Minnesota State University Planetarium is a theater of the universe. It can surround you with an accurate image of the sparkling night sky as well as display the complex motions and cycles that take place around us. State-of-the-art technologies create a fully immersive multi-media experience.

The three primary projection systems include a laser phosphor digital fulldome system, an LED driven optical-mechanical star projector offering the most pristine look at the night sky, as well as a full-color laser light show system that can fill the entire dome with mesmerizing laser light. To augment this experience a powerful audio system enhances the impact of the experience as you take in the wonders of the cosmos. This unique experience will interpret the universe in a way that appeals to both the mind and eye. The Planetarium will introduce you to a life-long acquaintance with the sky and the dynamic universe we are a part of.

To book a group planetarium star show and/or laser light show by contacting the planetarium director:

Ken Murphy

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Sun and Sky Chart

The biggest sky-event for 2023 will be an annular solar eclipse across southwest America. In Marshall, only 41% of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon is too small to block the sun completely and leaves the sun looking like a ring of fire. Ring is another word for the Latin word annulus.

  • Mercury makes its best evening appearance in mid to late April. For morning watchers, the best time to catch the smallest planet is mid to late January.
  • Venus can be seen in the evening sky from the year’s start to late July. After that, catch the brightest planet in the morning sky from late August until the rest of the year.
  • Mars is easy and bright to start the year in the evening sky. It fades slowly—probably gone to the naked eye by early September. The red planet will not reappear in the morning sky until early 2024.
  • Jupiter starts 2023 in the evening sky, but only until late March. By late May, the king planet will be high enough to observe in the morning sky. Jupiter shines in the evening sky again by August.
  • Saturn also starts 2023 in the evening sky, but only through the end of January. Catch the ring jewel in the morning sky in late March. From July until year’s end, Saturn can be seen in the evening sky.
2024 Sky and Space Calendar Preview
Date Event
January 2 Earth at perihelion, closest point to the Sun, 91.4 million miles 
January 3 20th anniversary Spirit rover lands on Mars 
January 5 Latest Sunrise: 7:23 a.m. CST in Marshall
January 24 20th anniversary Opportunity rover lands on Mars
January 27 Mercury and Mars very close in morning sky, difficult to see
February Launch of NASA’s Plankton, Aerosol Cloud Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Earth Satellite
February 10 Chinese New Year—Year of the Dragon; second new moon after winter solstice
February 22 Mars and Venus close in morning sky
February 16 Saturn at solar conjunction—behind Sun—moving to morning sky
February 22 The top three—Moon, Venus, and Jupiter—are very close
February 28 Saturn at solar conjunction—behind sun—moving to morning sky
February 29 Leap Day; Earth’s orbit is 365.25 days
March 10 Spring ahead! Daylight Saving Time begins
March 14 Pi Day and Einstein’s birthday
March 19 Spring begins at 10:06 p.m. CDT
March 21 Saturn and Venus close in morning sky—difficult to see
March 24-25 Penumbral lunar eclipse (very slight shading); Marshall 11:53 p.m. - 4:32 a.m. CDT
March 29 50th Anniversary of Mariner 10, first spacecraft to visit Mercury
April 8 Total solar eclipse across Mexico and USA
April 10 Saturn and Venus close in morning sky
April 19 Mercury and Venus close in morning sky
May 18 55th anniversary of Apollo 10 launch 
June 4 Venus at superior conjunction-behind sun—moving to evening sky
June 4 Mercury and Jupiter very close in morning sky—difficult to see
June 13 Earliest sunrise, 5:12 a.m. CDT in Marshall
June 20 Summer Solstice starts at 3:51 p.m. CDT
June 27 Latest sunset, 8:35 p.m. CDT in Marshall
July 5

Earth at aphelion, the farthest point from the sun, 94.5 million miles 

July 16-22 30th anniversary of 21 Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (21 pieces) crashing into Jupiter
July 20 55th anniversary of Apollo 11 and first steps on the moon
July 23 Pluto at opposition
August 1 Biggest full moon of 2022 (aka Supermoon)
August 12-14 Perseids meteor shower peaks
August 14 Mars and Jupiter close in morning sky
September 7 Saturn at opposition, opposite the Sun, up all night 
September 17 Small partial lunar eclipse, 9:12-10:15 p.m. for Marshall 
September 17-18 Supermoon, 7% bigger than average full moon
September 20 Neptune at opposition
September 22

Fall arrives with the autumnal equinox at 7:44 a.m. CDT 

October Launch of NASA's Europa Clipper to Jupiter’s moon Europa—arrives 2030 
October 2 Annular solar eclipse; visible in Chile and Argentina 
October 11 40th anniversary of first American woman spacewalk, Kathryn Sullivan
November Launch of NASA's Artemis II crew to orbit the moon and lunar rover VIPER, Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover; NASA’s Parker Solar Probe makes seventh Venus flyby
November 3 Fall back! Daylight Saving Time ends
November 16 Uranus at opposition
December 6 Mars starts retrograde (backwards) motion in constellation Leo
December 7 Jupiter at opposition, opposite the sun, up all night
December 7 Earliest sunset, 4:17 p.m. CST in Marshall
December 12-14 Geminid meteor shower peaks
December 21 Winter Solstice starts at 4:20 a.m. CST